Planning is key to annual celebration

July 07, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

Visitors prepared in different ways for the 17th annual Salute to Independence on Saturday at Antietam National Battlefield.

The Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Department prepared by buying 1,600 hamburgers, almost 1,000 hot dogs, 400 pounds of french fries and 2,000 bottles of beverages, Capt. Ron DeLauney said.

The company was the sole vendor of food and drinks at the event. As in past years, the company expected to be sold out by the end of the night, DeLauney said.

The fire company made about $4,000 profit on the event last year and hoped to make more this year. The event is the company's second biggest fund-raiser after the annual fund drive, he said.


Bob and Dana Phelps of Falling Waters, W.Va., said they prepared for Saturday by bringing with them games - including Uno, Old Maid and Scrabble - and lots of food.

"It is a nice family day. There is nothing to do but play with each other," Dana Phelps said.

Their son, Wesley, 8, said his favorite part of the event is the fireworks.

The Ludwicks of Chambersburg, Pa., planned the weekend around the event, said Gabrielle Ludwick, who was there with her husband and her 9-year-old-son, 7-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. They arrived at Antietam at 10 a.m. Saturday so they could stake out a space about 30 feet from the stage, she said.

They came early so the children could see the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's instruments, Ludwick said. She loves being able to expose her children to the good music and the history of the battlefield, she said.

"I like the fireworks and the food," Andrew Ludwick, 9, said.

Battlefield Superintendent John Howard said the first spot on the field was staked out at 8 a.m. Thursday when someone left a tarp with their name on it.

Jeremy Murphy of Emmitsburg, Md., a National Parks Service employee who usually works at the Catoctin Mountains, and Mary Stotler of Brunswick, Md., an intern at Antietam this summer, spent the day and night guiding people parking in a grass field in front of the Visitor Center parking lot.

They said they didn't mind spending 10 hours in a field where they could not directly see the concert.

"I enjoy being able to help out so others can enjoy themselves," Stotler said.

A booth at the battlefield provided information on the next big Antietam event - the 140th anniversary re-enactment Sept. 13-15. Tickets were being sold at a discount price for the day, event co-chairman Dennie Frye said.

"This is a good community event and ours will be the same," he said.

Organizers for the re-enactment expect to draw at least 100,000 people, he said.

People stopping by the booth came from as far away as Chicago, North Carolina and Massachusetts, Frye said.

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