ANNAPOLIS – Maryland officials began counting down Wednesday to the year 2000, unveiling a 9-foot clock, describing a series of celebrations and announcing a contest to name the state’s millennium mascot.
“Maryland is leading the country in celebrating the new millennium,” said former Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who is chairing the celebration commission. Schaefer said Maryland was one of only three states now planning a statewide celebration.
The digital clock, erected in front of the State House, resembles a scoreboard and displays the number of days (485), hours, minutes and seconds until the year 2000.
Schaefer and Louise Hayman, commission executive director, introduced the mascot, after good-naturedly rejecting other contenders – including the Oriole Bird, Testudo the Terrapin and Captain Phil the Crab. The millennium mascot is a woman draped in a dress patterned after the state flag and sporting a black top hat adorned with gold garland and the words “Celebration 2000.”
Among the activities proposed by the commission are a traveling exhibit of arts and crafts indigenous to Maryland; a series of seminars addressing challenges related to the new millennium and to be aired on local television stations; and a “kids commission” to educate Maryland’s future leaders.
But Schaefer said one of the problems faced by the commission will be raising funds for the programs.
The state has pledged $2.5 million for the celebrations, Hayman said, and the commission hopes for an additional $2 million from the private sector. Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan, a commission member, said the county and Baltimore City have each pledged $50,000.
Entries for the mascot contest can be submitted within the next 30 days to the commission’s Web site, at www.maryland2000.org, or by calling 1-877-MD2-0001. Prizes will include dinner for two to any Phillips Seafood Restaurant, tickets to a University of Maryland football game and an autographed picture of Oriole’s pitcher Mike Mussina.