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For revelry, races are a good bet

January 01, 2000

New Year's at Charles Town RacesBy JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Bonnie Osman has been to Atlantic City for New Year's Eve, she's seen the ball drop in Times Square in New York City and she's seen the pickle drop in her hometown of Dillsburg, Pa.

This year Osman, her husband and her godfather decided to ring in 2000 at Charles Town Races.

"We love to come down here to West Virginia because everyone's so friendly and it's a great state to come to to gamble," Osman said.

Besides, Times Square was a little crowded this year, said Osman, who was wearing a silver and white hat reading "Happy New Year."

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The three arrived fresh from a flight from Florida wearing Walt Disney World sweatshirts depicting the Epcot Center with "2000" atop it.

The Tills of Glen Burnie, Md., and the Jordans of Pasadena, Md., decided to come to the racetrack for New Year's because Betty Jordan likes to play the slots and Joe Till wanted to go out for the evening.

"It's closer than Atlantic City and it's more reasonable," Jordan said.

About 5,000 people were expected to show up at the racetrack and casino before midnight Friday, said Ted Schieffer, director of gaming operations. Schieffer said Charles Town Races usually draws between 4,000 and 5,000 people on a Friday night.

Just before midnight, track officials were to hand out party hats, noisemakers and streamers.

There were plenty of regulars at the racetrack, too.

"I just came here for the horses, that's it," said Dean Taylor, 50, of Hyattsville, Md. Taylor said he goes to Charles Town Races almost every Friday night.

Nancy Myers said she and her family "won good" at the casino last New Year's Eve.

"We're hoping it's another lucky night," said Myers, 49, of Knoxville, Md.

Chris Chamberlin, 42, of Charles Town, said he decided to go to the track with friends to enjoy the free drinks and free music after spending the year giving his money to the casino.

Joe Marr, 65, of Richmond, Va., said he and his wife came to Charles Town Races on New Year's Eve "just to play."

"We wanted something to do for new year's and we enjoy doing this," said Joyce Marr, 59.

"This is a last minute thing for us," said Mark Dabbundo, 37, of Front Royal, Va.

Delmer Gann, 51, of Front Royal, said he and Dabbundo considered staying at Gann's home, sitting at his bar.

"We were actually scared to come out" because of drunk drivers and police patrols, Dabbundo said.

But the two decided not to let potential drunk drivers scare them into staying home.

"And we like to gamble," Gann said.

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