Sharpsburg residents prepare for parade

May 19, 1997


Staff Writer

SHARPSBURG - Esther Gamperl already has boiled the sausage bladder and baked the ham for the guests she expects to stop by for Sharpsburg's annual Memorial Day Parade.

"I'm more tired than a dog's hind leg," said Gamperl, 86, who began cooking last week in preparation for Saturday's 130th annual parade, and she's not done yet.

She still has the meatballs and pickled eggs to make, and the punch bowl cake, macaroni salad and potato salad.

Gamperl is expecting about 30 guests this Saturday. She had as many as 51 people visit for the parade one year.


"We have a ringside seat. Our house sits high and our yard sits high and we all sit under a big magnolia tree in the front yard," said Gamperl, of 215 W. Main St.

Cooking big meals is part of parade tradition as is making sure everything in town is topnotch.

"Long before the event, town residents begin to paint, scrub, sweep and clean everything in site to prepare for the festivities," said Jan Wetterer, a parade committee member.

This kind of preparation dates back through the history of the parade, which is the oldest, continuous Memorial Day parade in the country, according to Wetterer.

The parade began in 1868, shortly after the Civil War ended, to welcome soldiers returning to Antietam National Battlefield and Antietam National Cemetery to remember their fallen comrades, Wetterer said.

The parade route follows the path those soldiers walked on Main Street from the old train station to the cemetery, she said.

Local families would fix meals for the returning soldiers, Wetterer said. Those family picnics and meals continue.

Donna DeLauney is expecting about 50 people this Saturday.

She also is fixing the traditional sausage bladder, which is served cold for sandwiches.

DeLauney will sit on her family's big front porch at 301 W. Main St. with family and friends to watch her two grandchildren march in the parade.

She and her husband, William, also marched in the parade when they were in grade school, DeLauney said.

Gamperl remembers her mother making crepe paper sashes for the girls to wear in the parade.

When it rained the colors would stream off the sashes onto the girls' white dresses, she said.

This year's parade includes the Rohrersville Band, Shenandoah Sounds Drum and Bugle Corps, Harmony Band and bands from Springfield Middle, Boonsboro Middle and Boonsboro High schools, Wetterer said.

The parade is sponsored by American Legion Post 236, Antietam National Battlefield and the Town of Sharpsburg.

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