Meet Your Neighbors — The US Naval Academy
By Cindy Rott
The United States Naval Academy is not the off-limits compound that many perceive it to be, although there have been times when security has restricted entrance. Typically, however, with proper IDs, visitors are welcome. Every week the USNA hosts a plethora of activities most of which are open to the public. During daylight hours, walking on is easy. Park downtown and just show your driver’s license at the gate. Of course, if you have a Department of Defense sticker on your car you can drive on, with the stipulation that all adults in the car show an ID at the gate. And, in the Bay area, who doesn’t know someone with a DoD tag?
Once you’ve managed to enter the walls, what is there to do? Appreciate the beauty, for starters. The “yard,“ as the midshipmen call their campus, is one of the most beautiful pieces of property in the Annapolis area. My personal favorite is to walk or jog the four-mile perimeter. There is very little traffic, lots to look at and the terrain is very flat. Exercising in the late afternoon is always enjoyable as the midshipmen are out of class and many are practicing intramurals, club or varsity sports and much of the activity taking place on the fields is worth watching.
During my runs I have witnessed helicopters landing, Marines rappelling out of choppers, rugby practice, sailing teams gearing up, midshipmen marching in formation, weddings, taps and baseball games. Hospital Point (the giant grassy field that is surrounded by water on three sides), is a great place to walk around as there are very few cars in this area, and the Severn River is worth a passing look as sailboats glide past. Often after a group walk with my “walking buddies,” we’ll stop in at Dahlgren Hall for some sandwiches. Some know it as the old ice skating rink, but few know there is a little counter-style restaurant open to the public. The pretzel bread sandwich is a welcome reward after a perimeter work out.
Things to check out: Walking tours are always a hit with your out-of-town visitors. These are scheduled for most days and can be had for less than $10. The Naval Academy Museum www.usna.edu/Museum is just a short walk from the main gate and is free and open almost every day. It is located adjacent to the gift shop. The chapel and crypt of John Paul Jones are open to the public (except federal holidays, weddings, funerals, etc). Both are beautiful and worth seeing. Anyone may attend chapel services which are Catholic, Jewish or Protestant. Log onto www.usna.edu/Chaplains/services for scheduled times.
Many artistic productions are offered throughout the year, including performances by the Men’s and Women’s Glee Clubs, Gospel Choir, Drum and Bugle Corps as well as the distinguished artist series. For more information call 410 293-2439.
The Blue Angels show is obviously the most popular event of the year, and can be viewed from many places in the Annapolis area. This is definitely worth taking the day off to see, or to bring your out-of-town guests. This year the Blue Angels practice on May 24, and do their official performance on May 25. My preference is for the practice day, as the show seems longer and the crowds are less intense. Don’t miss it this year, because next year the show will not go on due to scheduling conflicts. During graduation week many activities are open to the public, including dress parades and concerts. Lots of information can be obtained at www.usna.edu/SpecialEvents/CommWeek
On May 23, at 1:30 p.m. is Herndon, the annual climbing of an obelisk to signify and celebrate the end of plebe (freshman) year. Last year the ‘makes it more fun’ lard was outlawed by the then superintendant, and the mids climbed to the top in a record two minutes, five seconds. This year the spectacle promises to be longer as the upper classmen have been granted the right to grease the monument again, making for a very slippery climb.
Have young summer visitors? A boot camp for ages six to 12 is a short two-hour commitment that is offered periodically and is a great way to entertain young guests as they are taught to march, salute and to speak Navy lingo–ending in a chow time.
Navy sports are a great way to see some awesome athletics up close and personal. Check out www.usna.edu/athletics for a composite calendar where you can peruse all of the many different sports schedules. Lacrosse and football are always great to watch, but did you know you can attend many of the less popular sports including baseball and gymnastics for free? Check out the website, which will also let you know when the shuttle bus is running. Park at the Navy stadium for $5, and the shuttle bus will drive you onto the academy, sometimes right to the sporting arena. (You will still need an ID.) The annual brigade boxing, held the end of February, is a great event to bring those teenage grandsons to, they might be so entertained they might even stop texting.
For more information, or to find a specific event, check out the Capital Newspaper or the USNA website at www.usna.edu