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Heat doesn't hurt concert in park

July 05, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

Bonnie Showalter wasn't about to let a broken ankle keep her away from Sunday's Independence Day choral and band concert Sunday in Hagerstown City Park.

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Showalter and her husband, Henry, have been coming to the concerts in the park since they moved to Hagerstown 12 years ago. This time, Bonnie Showalter had to use a wheelchair.

"I'm tired of being in the house," she said.

About 1,000 people came out to hear the Hagerstown Municipal Band and Hagerstown Choral Arts perform a patriotic free concert at the park.

"I can't think of a better place to be on the Fourth of July," said Millie Eichelberger, 60, of Hagerstown. "We have all this talent in Hagerstown and the surrounding area. How many towns have something like this?"

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Eichelberger feels a special attachment to City Park because her father helped build the park's signature attraction, the lake.

Edward and Paula Lampton of Hagerstown said they like to come to the concerts to show their support for the band and its dedicated volunteers.

Plus, the park is a nice place to spend a summer evening, he said.

"It's so nice to get out, in spite of the weather," Edward Lampton said. "I like the patriotic songs."

Band Director Lynn Lerew said Sunday might have set a heat record in the concert series' 85-year history. Even as the sun went down in the already shady park, the air was sticky and hot.

"Thank you for leaving your nice air-conditioned houses, apartments and cars," Lerew told the audience.

Merrill and Vickie Layton of Hagerstown bought root beer snow cones to keep them cool.

The Laytons have been coming to Hagerstown Municipal Band concerts together since they started dating more than 20 years ago. On Sunday, they brought their 13-year-old nephew, Chris Preston.

The concert series dates back to 1915. The concerts have been held at the parks band shell since it was built in 1936.

The audience delighted as the band played John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever March."

Earlier this century, Sousa was a guest conductor for the band several times at the request of former band director Peter Buys, who played clarinet in Sousa's band from 1912 to 1918.

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