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Displays of color fill skies

Fireworks event is first in years for Hagerstown

Fireworks event is first in years for Hagerstown

July 05, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

All eyes were to the skies Thursday night as communities throughout the Tri-State area hosted fireworks displays and activities to celebrate the nation's independence.

Throughout the day, area residents attended patriotic and family events at War Memorial Park in Martinsburg, W.Va.; at Jerome R. King Playground in Greencastle, Pa.; on West Main Street in Waynesboro, Pa.; at Memorial Park in Chambersburg, Pa.; and at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown.

An evening event capped by fireworks at Fairgrounds Park marked the first time in some years that the City of Hagerstown had sponsored a Fourth of July celebration.

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Although city officials and others couldn't recall when the city last sponsored such a celebration, residents who attended the event thought it was a good idea and wanted to see it back next year.

"It's about time," said Leonard Dawson of Hagerstown.

"It's been so long," said Larry McGowan, who attended the celebration with Dawson.

Dawson said the last time he could remember an Independence Day event put on by the city was when he was a youngster.

"It was about 1952 the last time they had them here," he said.

"It's the first they've been here in probably 40 years," said JoAnn Byers, who lives just north of Hagerstown.

Dawson and Byers, who attended with her husband, Richard, might not be that far off track.

Hagerstown Public Information Manager Karen Giffin didn't know when the last time was, but another city official said it was at least before 1979.

Giffin said the crowd began filing in Fairgrounds Park about 6 p.m. The number swelled into the thousands by dark.

Some people pitched tents around recreational vehicles while others sat on their cars or in lawn chairs or stretched out on blankets.

Children played football and twirled glowing sticks while waiting for the 30-minute fireworks display in which 14,230 shells were exploded.

The Country Showcase of America Jamboree, including The Ralph Case Cloggers, and Heavy Country kept the crowds occupied before the fireworks.

"I think it's wonderful," said Jan Kaplan of Hagerstown.

Kaplan attended with her husband, David, and daughter, Melita.

"This is the first that I've seen the whole community come out for the evening," Jan Kaplan said.

David Kaplan said the celebration would make a nice annual event.

"It think it's a great tradition for July the 4th, because we haven't had anything on July 4th," he said.

The fireworks began about 9:30 p.m., prompting oohs and ahs from the crowd as the sky was colored with shades of red, white, blue, green and gold.

Giffin said city officials would evaluate the event and the number of people who attended this year and determine whether they will have another celebration next year.

Residents said they would come back if the city sponsored a show every year.

"That's why I wanted to be here," David Kaplan said. "I thought whether they do this every year would depend on how many people came out this year."

"Hagerstown needs this," Richard Byers said. "It'll put Hagerstown back on the map."

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