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Tradition marches on in Sharpsburg

May 29, 1999|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

SHARPSBURG - After 132 years, the Memorial Day parade is entrenched in Sharpsburg's tradition.

It's also a tradition for best friends Amy Blevins and Bobbi Grimm, who came together with their families to watch the parade on Saturday.

The Sharpsburg residents were among hundreds of spectators seated and standing along East Main Street during the roughly 90-minute procession.

They saw local marching bands and drill teams, military men, women and equipment - including a couple of tanks and World War II vintage jeeps and trucks - Civil War re-enactors, pickup trucks loaded with Little League teams, convertibles carrying politicians and pageant queens, Shriners driving miniature cars and fire and rescue equipment.

"We pretty much come out every year. We're from this area. We marched in it when we were at Sharpsburg Elementary School," said Blevins, 26, of Sharpsburg.

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They were expecting it to be a scorcher, since it seems to be really hot during the parade every year, said Grimm, trying to cool her daughter Kayla, 3.

This year, pregnant with her first child, Blevins said she prepared for the heat by freezing a bottle of water so she could drink its cool meltings.

Jeff and Julie Harrison lucked out in their choice of a spot under a tree to wait for daughter Jayme Harrison, 15, to pass with the Boonsboro High School Band.

It became more shaded as the sun's position changed, said Jeff Harrison, 46.

"I can't imagine marching in a parade on a day like this," he said.

He said he was amazed at how big a parade it was.

There were 82 units this year, according to organizers.

"It's a great parade, really," said Julie Harrison, 42, who said it was great to see the Marine Corps participating.

She also liked the Shriners, she said.

"The moment we've all been waiting for," said Jeff Harrison as Jayme approached with the rifle squad.

Moments after she passed, they popped up and gathered their things.

"Now we have to meet her at the end with cold water," he said.

Next to their now-empty spot, the Rizzo family of Annapolis continued to watch the parade.

"The bands have been excellent," said Barbara Rizzo, 38.

The family rescheduled its trip to Antietam National Battlefield from Memorial Day Monday to Saturday after learning about the parade on the Internet, she said.

The whole family - husband Charles, 42, and children Charlie, 10, Gregory, 8, and Caroline, 4 1/2 - enjoyed the change in plans, she said.

Caroline said her favorite part of the parade was the candy, thrown out to the crowd by the Little Leaguers.

For Gregory, it was a toss-up between the candy and the floats.

The parade culminated a day of Memorial Day activities sponsored by American Legion Post No. 236, Antietam National Battlefield and the Town of Sharpsburg.

There was a wreath-laying ceremony at Town Square, then a Memorial Day ceremony at the battlefield, then a concert by the Rohrersville Band in the square.

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