The Tug of War was originally conceived by the residents of Eastport in 1997 when the City of Annapolis used the excuse of a "public works project" to close the Spa Creek bridge that leads to Eastport from Annapolis. This unprovoked act of aggression on the part of the City of Annapolis had the effect of cutting off Eastport residents and businesses from the rest of the city. The somewhat fractious citizens of Eastport, feeling the sting of rejection by The City and, perhaps, somewhat emboldened by the generous pouring habits of a local bartender, decided to declare war against The City of Annapolis and secede. Thus, to the rallying cries of "Up The Republic," the micro-nation known as The Maritime Republic of Eastport was born.
Ellen Moyer remembers:
- The rope for the tug, a main attraction, was guaranteed for 10 years against breaking. Important less a snap beheads a puller. (that has happened elsewhere) So if it hasn't been proofed earlier should do so now. Number of pullers also limited for safety reasons. Search for the biggest muscle men was part of the fun. Wimpy Ward one originally thought this was a childish immature happening.
- The original idea persons for this event were Sam Shropshire (then known as Jeff Collins) and Josh Cohen at the Rams Head downstairs (brass Id at booth) and simultaneously in conversation.
- At the Wharf, now the Boat Yard, Ellen Moyer and ..maybe Bar owner. The closing of the Spa Creek Bridge was of big concern to local business owners. I was Alderman. The foundation of MRE was to get us through the hard times. The water taxi became a favorite for moving people to downtown for jobs and home again. It was subsidized by State coffers. Too bad it ceased when the Bridge reopened.
- Anyway back to the tug, Chris Kellog, now moved, was active in leading the volunteer board that first met at the Chart House. The past results of tugs as recorded in history was instrumental in defining our effort. The safety of the rope was most important and we stored it in a secret place with a proper temperature with Jeanne Brown. I was the first Ambassador to the Mainland for MRE. We held An Ambassadors Ball where the Hitch is now.
- And of course MRE had an Army and Air Force. Sam helped to capture the submarine Annapolis when it Was here for a visit.( we hung the MRE flag) In the early days, weather announcer for WBAL (Marty Bass?) was in the boat calling the winning tug which in the early days was always Eastport. We also did a special event with dogs that were invited into the restaurants and "sat" at the Bar. There was then really not a law against dogs in restaurants Kind of like Paris. So we had great fun and a lot of festivities.
- from the MRE website