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Smithsburg Pride Days draws many who care

July 20, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer

SMITHSBURG - It's small and there are not many of the trappings you find in the big city, but that's what the people of Smithsburg like about their town.

In fact, many of the people who live in Smithsburg are former city-dwellers who realized the fast-paced life was not for them.

"We've had our fill of Jersey life. I think this is the best," said Rhoda Schiano, who is getting ready to move back to Smithsburg because she is worried what her children will face growing up in New Jersey.

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Schiano was strolling through Smithsburg Saturday as the town was celebrating its fourth annual Smithsburg Pride Days. Live music, Civil War reenactments, street dances, a parade, craft sales and a 5K run were held to celebrate the town's rural atmosphere and warm, friendly people.

Charlie Slick, one of the organizers of Smithsburg Pride Days, said the idea for the event started following the town's 175th anniversary celebration in 1988.

The event went so well that town residents wanted to have a regular celebration similar to the anniversary event, Slick said.

Slick is another Smithsburg native who could not stay away from his home. Slick grew up in Smithsburg, but later left the town to work for the Prince George's County school system. After retiring, he moved back to Smithsburg in 1982.

He joined the town council and even bought his family's old homeplace.

"It sure means a lot to me," Slick said of Smithsburg.

Billie Boyer and Rita Gertzog escaped to the laid-back lifestyle of Smithsburg more than 20 years ago after they realized city living was not for them.

Boyer joked that Gertzog was the first one to blaze the trail from Washington, D.C., to Washington County when she and her husband moved from Bethesda to Smithsburg 28 years ago. Gertzog's husband continued to commute to his job at the federal Food and Drug Administration in Bethesda.

"We moved from the suburbs because we wanted a community that had a heart," said Boyer.

People say they like the town because it has good schools, businesses and churches. The town's development in the 1800s was influenced by migration paths, the arrival of the railroad and advances in agricultural technology.

Smithsburg Pride Days continue through 4 p.m. today.

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