Getting fired up about the big re-enactment

September 05, 1997

OK, this is Hagerstown's big weekend to shine, so press that line mister. Shine those shoes, hike up those britches, straighten that cap and get rid of that pledge pin.

I'm a little nervous. After all, they estimate 50,000 spectators and 10,000 re-enactors will show up to watch the Battle of Antietam re-fought with blank cartridges.

We all hope they're blanks. They have a rule against "live ammunition" on the battlefield during the 135th anniversary re-enactment. Seriously. It's sort of like the "No running with the scissors" rule we're all familiar with from home.


One spectator we're all hoping doesn't show up, of course, is Erika, which as of late last week was a nasty little tropical depression drumming its fingers down in the Trailer Park Islands somewhere in the South Atlantic. With any luck, the tropical depression will take a little tropical Prozac and chill out and leave us alone this weekend.

Of course, if God gives you lemons, make lemonade. I'm thinking along the lines of Antietam: The Musical. "I'm fighting in the rain, just fighting in the rain. What a glorious feeling, I'm bleeding again."

Damn Yankees II.

"Anyone you can shoot I can shoot better; I can shoot anyone better than you."

Whoops, I'm mixing my musicals.

And I know better than to suggest anything lighthearted inder the shadow of the nation's bloodiest day. Last time I did I had about 492 Charlie Danielses offering to show up on my doorstep - and to waive the no-live-ammo rule.

But if it is a dark and dingy day, no matter, because we have all that cheerful orange construction fencing downtown.

The soldiers will all come marching through Public Square to kick off the big weekend, so I'm trying to parlay this fencing into something authentic.

After all, those were two thinks they absolutely didn't have in 1862: 1. Plastic. 2. The color orange.

I don't think orange was invented until something like 1953 in Miami.

No, nothing back then even resembled orange construction fencing, so we'll have to turn to the universal solution - mulch. Whenever something is in danger of being too modern, like pavement, we can always ladle a little mulch over it and that makes things satisfactory again.

One other option would be to send the horses through first, but I don't even like to think about that.

Also marching on Hagerstown this Friday will the Imus in the Morning national radio program live from the Maryland Theatre.

So which will have the greater entertainment value, 5,000 federal troops meeting 5,000 Confederate troops amid smoke, noise, dust and gunfire, or Don Imus meeting Pat Wolford?

Imus is actually pretty gracious to host cities when he takes his show on the road, so I imagine we'll get the "what's not to like about Hagerstown" treatment rather than the reasons "why Hagerstown can't suck enough."

Unless he hates orange.

And finally, on this "you can't throw a brick without hitting a woman in a hoopskirt" weekend, I promised its organizers that I would also put in a plug for the Sharpsburg Heritage Festival.

Depending on your perspective, it's either it's good fortune that the 135th is the same weekend as the Sharpsburg festival because it will draw extra to the area in general, or bad fortune because the town shindig will get lost in the shuffle.

I believe it's good fortune, really. Like they say, a rising tide raises all Merrimacks. I fully intend on covering myself with mulch and attending both.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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