BALTIMORE (AP) — Tall ships, a Blue Angels air show and a majestic fireworks display will be among the highlights of a weeklong celebration of the 200th anniversary of the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner.
The weeklong, multi-million-dollar celebration begins Sept. 10, and will feature musical performances by Smokey Robinson, Kristin Chenoweth and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, whose Irish rock band, O'Malley's March, is on the bill for Baltimore's biggest bash of the year.
O'Malley joined Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at the Baltimore Visitor Center on Tuesday to help kick off the festivities.
Rawlings-Blake said the celebration will spotlight Baltimore as a historical and cultural hotspot, and that she hopes to attract tourists from around the country.
"Baltimore served as the last line of the defense as our fledgling nation fought against the greatest naval power the world had ever seen," Rawlings-Blake said. "Baltimore's history is full of stories that show the resilience of a people and of a nation. We are going to show off Baltimore like no one can imagine."
The celebration commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore, when American troops protected Fort McHenry from British invasion. Francis Scott Key, a Baltimore-area lawyer, had been sent onto a British vessel to negotiate the release of an American hostage when a 25-hour air strike began. But when the smoke cleared, Key saw that the American flag was still secured above the ramparts at Fort McHenry. So inspired was Key that he wrote the lyrics to what would become America's national anthem.
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