Many spend Memorial Day at play


Respect, rest and recreation topped Memorial Day agendas in Washington County on Monday.

People gathered at area cemeteries to pay tribute to fallen veterans, at parks to picnic and spend time with friends and family, at shopping malls to take advantage of holiday savings and at pools and in gardens to savor the mild weather.

"This is a rest day," said Earl Keller, 81, of Hagerstown.

Keller worked under sunny skies Monday morning planting tomatoes and other vegetables in his garden before joining friend Russell Neff on a bench at Valley Mall in Hagerstown for a break, he said. Patriotic music played on the mall's sound system.

Beth O'Hare, 39, of Hagerstown scoured the racks at a mall department store for Memorial Day bargains.

"I need some new clothes for the summer," she said.

Barbara Clark of Frederick, Md., prepared to spend her holiday in a galaxy far away as she waited in line at Valley Mall Movie 16 for tickets to "Star Wars: Episode II."


A day at the movies also seemed a great way to spend the holiday for such youngsters as Abigail Roberts and Quintin Miller, they said. Abigail, 8, of Hagerstown, and Quintin, 3, of McConnellsburg, Pa., waited in line to see the horse movie, "Spirit: Stallion of Cimmaron."

"I just like him. He's a horse," Quintin said.

Walter Allen, 31, and Bob Stitely, 56, both of Funkstown, preferred a closer look at their critters of choice. The duo boarded their boat at Riverbottom Park in Williamsport Monday afternoon in hopes of hooking a few catfish in the Potomac River, they said.

Fishing wasn't just a Memorial Day treat, Allen said.

"It's an everyday thing," he said.

At the nearby Williamsport section of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, dozens of people strolled and bicycled the towpath and fished in the Cushwa Basin.

Ben Barnett, 12, of Maugansville, relaxed on a chair by the basin with his fishing rod. He had already caught five fish before noon, he said. David and Louise Holder of Columbia, Md., hiked 10 miles on the towpath with their dog, Dolly.

"We couldn't think of a better way to spend our day," Louise Holder said.

Sue McGowen enjoyed a towpath bike ride with her daughter, Alex, 6.

"We just love it here. It's beautiful," said McGowen, who planned a family barbecue at her Gerrardstown, W.Va., home for later in the day.

Dozens of friends and family members gathered in Hagerstown's City Park on Monday to celebrate the holiday around picnic tables and on playground equipment.

About 10 members of the Moore and Monn families of Chambersburg, Pa., staked claim to a shady spot under a park pavilion. The families get together every year, members said, and especially enjoy meeting in City Park.

John and Peggy Monn dated in the park before getting married, they said.

"It brings back a lot of memories," Peggy Monn said.

The Blackburn family of Hagerstown joined the Thompson family of Winchester, Va., at City Park for a picnic under a favorite tree.

"We've had family picnics here for 14 years," Cindy Blackburn said. "Everybody just brings food and we pile it all together."

Hundreds of people flocked to pools throughout the county for an afternoon of swimming. Public pools in Halfway, Williamsport and Hagerstown opened for the season Saturday and at noon Monday.

Unexpectedly sunny weather drew about 200 swimmers each to the county pool at Martin L. Snook Park in Halfway and Claude M. Potterfield Pool in Hagerstown, pool employees said.

"We lucked out today," Potterfield Pool Manager Ralph Axen said.

The L. Beard Miller Memorial Pool in Williamsport also saw a great turn-out, lifeguard Ben Buchman said.

The revelry of such holiday celebrations was a marked contrast to the somber veterans' services at area cemeteries at which some Washington County residents started their holiday.

Richard and Amanda Slaubaugh of Hagerstown attended the Memorial Day service at Rose Hill Cemetery on South Potomac Street.

"We're here out of respect for the sacrifices of veterans," said Richard Slaubaugh, 26.

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