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Battlefield gets ready

July 06, 2002|by DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

The speakers are up, rows of trash cans placed and the stage is set.

The preparations for the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's 17th annual Salute to Independence were numerous, but went smoothly at Antietam National Battlefield on Friday.

Now organizers are just hoping the weather cooperates.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to crowd the hillside and every other grassy patch around the battlefield visitor center today. The annual Independence Day weekend celebration features a 7:30 p.m. symphony concert, with fireworks after nightfall.

"Today and tomorrow are the busy days," said Elaine Braun, director of operations for the Maryland Symphony Orchestra. "I'm anxious to see everything go well.

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"When you see all those people clap and applaud and happy, it makes it all worth it."

Battlefield Superintendent John Howard said people coming to the battlefield should bring water, bug repellent and a flashlight. After the fireworks end the hillside in front of the stage will be lighted, but the rest of the area will not, he said.

Spectators may also notice increased security at this year's event.

"They will see twice as many (park) rangers ... and about 30 rangers will be in the crowd," Howard said.

No threats have been made, he said.

"It's just the heightened national alert."

Also, people are being asked not to leave coolers or bags unattended because "it creates one more thing to search," Howard said.

Howard said people should not bring coolers or other packages to the battlefield until 2 p.m.

Howard and Braun said they have been keeping an eye on the weather forecast, hoping for good weather.

"It's going to be in the 80s instead of the 90s and, if the breeze continues, it will be beautiful," Braun said.

"If we get a day in the 80s, I'll be happy," Howard said.

Howard said the temperature could drop into the 60s after the sun goes down.

No rain is forecast, they said.

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