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Town puts its pride on parade

July 21, 2002

julieg@herald-mail.com

There were mules pulling a wagon, two Texas Longhorn cattle, baton-twirling girls and Ali Ghan members riding miniature motorized cars.

But it was the candy that captured the attention of 21/2-year-old Rachael Cochran of Smithsburg.

Parade members tossing candy to spectators is a tradition of the Smithsburg Pride Days Parade, Pride Days co-founder Charlie Slick said.

Rachael had a bag for candy last year too, "but she really didn't know what she was doing with it," said her mother, Claire Cochran. "This year she knows."

The 21/2-foot-tall Rachael didn't appear impressed by much else during the parade. She gave McGruff the Crime Dog a suspicious look as he went by in a red convertible before finally deciding to give him a smile.

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She waved energetically at people in five Smithsburg fire and rescue vehicles before putting her hand back down when Washington County Commissioner Paul Swartz was driven by. She didn't wave at other politicians either.

Last year Rachael was impressed by the music. This year as bands went by she often stood by the curb with her arms crossed and holding her paper bag waiting for more bubble gum and Tootsie Rolls.

Church and child-care groups appeared to do the most candy tossing.

"One year a dentist office threw out toothbrushes. That was nice," Claire Cochran said.

Rachael, her sister Megan, 4; sister Katie, 1; sister Lexie, 6; and cousin Tevin Lockhart, who turned 6 on Saturday, enjoyed the parade from the Water Street front yard of their cousins, the Smiths, Cochran said.

The candy-focused group got pretty excited when the float for St. Paul's Methodist Church went by. It gave them a chance to cheer and embarrass Rachael's oldest sister, Alisha, 10, who was holding the banner with Kristen Harbaugh, 10, Cochran said.

Besides the parade, there were 52 craft and food vendors on Saturday, Slick said.

For the hungry, options included country ham, roast beef, beef barbecue, Italian sausage, funnel cakes and popcorn.

There were NASCAR-themed pillows featuring a driver's race car for $10, "I Love Bingo" T-shirts, country furniture, $1 chances to win the Leitersburg Peach Quilt with a peach and white dahlia pattern, and yo-yo balloons.

Rick and Pam Ryan of College Park, Md., bought three yo-yo balloons for a friend and some children.

"We love Smithsburg so it's very fun to celebrate Smithsburg," said Pam Ryan, 40, whose parents live in town.

The forecasts of rain and thunderstorms and the reality of heat and humidity didn't appear to keep people away. While Pride Days organizers don't count attendance, Slick said he was surprised so many people showed up, given the forecast.

Hagerstown resident Tom Greenfield really felt the heat, walking downtown and back to Veterans Park in his wool World War I British Royal Naval Division uniform with an almost full backpack.

The Great War Foundation, based in Chambersburg, Pa., exchanged noise with a Smithsburg brush truck during the parade. When the truck's siren sounded, the re-enactors operated the noisemaker on a nonfiring Vickers machine gun at their camp in the park.

With the heat and humidity, there was a long line for snow cones.

The heat and five grandchildren drove Joe Elliott, 65, of Smithsburg, to get a grape snow cone, which actually came in a Styrofoam cup.

"They all wanted a snow cone and Pop-Pop had to have one, too," Elliott said.

His 11/2-year-old granddaughter, Maddie Rue of Baltimore, was taking her snow cone seriously. Sitting in a stroller, the little girl was using a plastic spoon to make steady progress on a 16-ounce strawberry cone.

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