March 4, 2024
Annapolis, US 54 F

The MRE Tug-Of-War, a beloved tradition in jeopardy

On November 3, 2018, the Maritime Republic of Eastport (MRE) hosted their 21st Annual Tug of War. One might assume the 22nd annual event would be on November 2nd in 2019.  But you would be wrong. It seems like the popular tug-of-war may have run its course.

For 20-years, the party has always been on the Eastport side of the “Gulf of Eastport”with live music, flowing refreshments, food vendors, and literally thousands of neighbors. The Annapolis side was pretty staid. There were no parties, the teams (when they could be mustered) came out, tugged and either went home or went over the bridge to Eastport to finish out the party.

But now, the tug is in jeopardy!

John O’Leary of Naptown Events (also the organizer behind the Annapolis St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Hooley) changed that in 2018 and stepped up and put on a party for the Annapolis side. Beer, wine, food, live entertainment. But the party was not enough to draw the crowds to be sustainable.

Tug Of War throughout the years!

We spoke with O’Leary over the weekend about it and he said, “Due to lack of financial support and time constraints Naptown Events (O’Leary’s company) has made a decision to not be involved in the MRE tug-of-war in 2019.”

We also spoke with Brett Cureton who is the “Premier” for the Maritime Republic of Eastport who confirmed that the Board voted last week to not hold a tug in 2019.

[bctt tweet=”On November 2nd, there will either be a tug or a “day of the dead” party to mourn the end of the Tug. It all depends on the support we recruit on the 4th!” username=”eyeonannapolis”]

Cureton along with the “Minister of Finance” have been with the MRE for sixteen years; with Cureton at the helm for ten of them. Most other members of the all-volunteer Board have served for 8 or more years and without new blood stepping into the mix, they are running out of steam. While there are plenty of volunteers for the day of the event, it is the weeks of planning in advance where the help is needed. With attendance increasing each year, the four core members simply cannot continue.

Since you cannot have a tug without tuggers on the other side of the rope, the MRE has also run the Annapolis side for all but 4 of the 21 years.

However, there still may be a way to save the tug.

Pam Finlay who has run promotions in the area for many years (including 2 tugs for the Annapolis side several years ago) contacted Cureton to advise that she would handle the Annapolis side along with Jody Danek, a business partner of Mayor Gavin Buckley and general partner in the Market House. We spoke with Finlay who said she envisions the Annapolis side with a small gathering prior to the tug and afterwards going to the Eastport side to participate in the celebration and fund raising.

With that commitment, the MRE Board convened an emergency meeting on May 13th to see if they wanted to re-consider their vote of not holding the tug. They came out with a compromise.

On June 4th at the Eastport Democratic Club, the MRE will hold a recruitment social/happy hour at 7:00pm. The MRE will be looking for people that are genuinely interested in committing to the planning and organizing of the events throughout the year.

Patti Slaughter, the MRE’s Vice-Premiere put it simply, “On November 2nd, there will either be a tug or a “day of the dead” party to mourn the end of the Tug. It all depends on the support we recruit on the 4th!”

The event has been a free, community building event since inception and has required the support of generous sponsors and of course people paying for merchandise, beer, and food. The proceeds of the event are donated to local charities that will change from year to year and is approaching the $1 million mark.

If you are interested in helping to run the organization and the events, please send and email to [email protected] or plan to attend the social/happy hour on the 4th.

For a bit of background on the Tug-of-War….

Slaughter Across The Water from Andrew Gay on Vimeo.

You can check out some of our past coverage of the tug, here, here, here, here, and here.

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