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Williamsport's 26th annual C&O Canal Days

Annual tribute to days gone by benefits days ahead

Annual tribute to days gone by benefits days ahead

August 22, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Williamsport's 26th annual C&O Canal Days celebrates a town as well as the history of the 184.5-mile man-made waterway that runs from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Md. alongside the Potomac River.

The canal, completed in 1850, stopped operations in 1924.

But the town of Williamsport is going strong.

Elissa Slayman has been chairing the Canal Days celebration since 1977. She has tried to resign. Her resignation always is torn up; the terms of her tenure are "till death do us part," she says with a laugh.

She and her "one heck of a good committee" of volunteers work hard for months lining up crafters, local business sponsors, entertainment.

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Proceeds - "every penny" - benefit the town of Williamsport, helping to buy Christmas lights and tables and benches for the park. Festival proceeds also help the fire and ambulance companies, library, food bank, schools, the band and athletic clubs.

Slayman likes to see people come back to town to see their friends, talk to each other. That's the committee's paycheck, she says.

"I do it because I love my town."

The town's community band will perform as will other musical groups. There will be a barn dance Saturday night.

The C&O National Historical Park will host activities, demonstrations, fishing for kids and music throughout the weekend. In addition to bringing in Hagerstown Community College's New Horizons Band Friday at 6:30 p.m., the park's offerings include a birds of prey exhibit by Frank Galvin and a canal history walk Saturday at 11 a.m. led by Mike High, author of "The C&O Canal Companion."

Civil War re-enactors will be on hand, there will be a Civil War wedding - actually a renewal of vows - Saturday at 2 p.m., says Donna Swauger, park ranger.

Members of the C&O Canal Association will present programs at the canal's Lock 44, a quarter mile downstream from the Visitors Center. Rehabilitation of the lock was completed two years ago.

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