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Area enjoys Labor Day

September 08, 1998|By MATTHEW BIENIEK

Labor Day is traditionally a time to relax, have a picnic and go swimming.

It's also a big weekend for family reunions and other gatherings.

And despite plenty of clouds, people did just those things Monday to celebrate the holiday.

A reunion of sorts brought John and Mary Hirsch 1,200 miles from Rhinelander, Wis., to Hagerstown City Park.

The Hirsches and their children, Michael, 8, and Daniel, 5, were tossing an orange Frisbee with friends Douglas Ross and Janielle Sigler of Martinsburg, W.Va.

John Hirsch and Douglas Ross met 16 years ago when both were stationed in Germany. Hirsch was with the U.S. Army military police and Ross was a Department of Defense civilian employee.

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The Hirsches drove 17 hours for the visit, and plan to stay in the area until Wednesday or Thursday.

"We're just going to have a little picnic and have some fun together," Ross said.

It was ducks, geese and swans in the City Park pond that attracted Christine and Tom Moskal and their three children, Erica, Scott and Jennifer of Gerrardstown, W.Va.

"We're just out to enjoy the ducks and the outdoors before winter comes in," Tom Moskal said.

At Greenbrier State Park, throngs came to picnic, swim and soak up what rays of sun they could on a day that faded from sunny to overcast and back again.

Getting away from crowded city surroundings brought two families to join hundreds of others at the popular park and lake.

Joe and Cathy Fiorillo of Washington, D.C., heard about the park from friends.

"We love it, and we'll be back," Joe Fiorillo said. The Fiorillos brought their children, Tony, 6, and Anna, 1. They also brought a picnic lunch.

Peggy McNamara, a friend of the Fiorillos, said despite the crowds, the park didn't feel crowded.

"It has a nice feel about it. It doesn't feel like anywhere close to D.C.," she said.

Tony was most excited by fishing.

"I didn't catch anything, but I did get some nibbles," he said.

In the wooded picnic area, hammocks were strung between trees, and the smell of grilling hamburgers filled the air.

Harry Weippert of Baltimore, 72, was celebrating his birthday with his children and seven of his grandchildren.

A retired printer, Weippert said he felt like it was a private park.

"There's plenty of room here," he said.

Of course, some people were working on Labor Day, among them, Staley and Mary Shafer of Boonsboro.

"We're doing the same thing today we do seven days a week," said Staley Shafer, 72.

The Shafers have run a produce stand on Md. Route 66 for 45 years. They raise the cantaloupes, watermelon, sweet corn, peppers and onions for the stand on six acres.

Why were they working on Labor Day?

"To pay taxes and insurance. We can't do it on social security. Property taxes are the worst," he said.

Things were slower on Labor Day than on the rest of the weekend, he said.

Shafer said 20 years ago the whole road from his stand for the few miles into Boonsboro was packed with stands selling cantaloupes. Now, his stand is pretty much alone on the road.

"The kids won't do it. The work is too hard for them. To grow nice ones takes some work," he said.

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