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Citizens revel in fun, reflect on freedoms

July 05, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

Terry Wells was not keeping score during his round Friday, but he certainly won for the most enthusiastic miniature golf player in War Memorial Park.

Not sporadic rain spitting from the sky nor temperatures souring into the 90s could quell Wells' enthusiasm.

Wells was one of thousands of people who came to the park to celebrate Independence Day. Many wore bathing suits to enable them to take a dip in the park's pool, while others played basketball, grilled food or sat listening to the country music and patriotic tunes emitting from large speakers.

Wells, 43, of Washington, was visiting a friend of a friend. During his first trip to Martinsburg, Wells strutted toward each golf hole, certain greatness was to follow.

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When his ball stopped inches short of the hole or flew off the fake grass into nearby bushes, he brushed it off.

"I'm going to be doing better right now. Watch this," he said, using one arm to swing his putter.

Wells' friend, Wanda Curry, was playing the round with him. Out of eyesight, she took a shot that was greeted with protest.

"Put that in your report - woman cheats on friend," Wells said.

Playing behind the pair were Katy Leborious, 11, and Kierson Ledane, 10. Leborious thrust her putter into the air when she got a hole-in-one.

The girls were not keeping score either, and seemed unconcerned. Sometimes they hit the ball before it stopped rolling, keeping it as close to the hole as possible.

Jeff Young, 14, was playing in bare feet and wet swimming trunks. He stopped short of slamming his putter into the ground after missing an easy shot.

"Hey Jeff, you need a little help finding that hole?" asked his friend, Billy Ashbrook, 20.

Quizzing Young's cousin, 5-year-old Shawn Hite, Ashbrook asked him, "You know what today means? Have you ever heard someone say Independence Day?"

Silence greeted his queries.

Understanding the meaning of the Fourth of July is something Shellie Fiddler tried to instill in her three children. While they frolicked elsewhere in the park, Fiddler was the keeper of the flame, cooking hot dogs and hamburgers on a small table-top grill.

With her husband working a double shift, Fiddler was left to cook. It took her a while, but her first attempt to light the grill was successful.

"We love it. It's great. The park's wonderful," she said.

Fiddler and her children planned to spend the entire day at the park and stay for the evening fireworks.

"It reminds us of all the freedoms that we have. Thank God for all the freedoms," she said.

"It's always nice to celebrate, but there are always families out there unable to celebrate," she said, referring to families who have lost a loved one in the war.

Down the hill from Fiddler and her grill were a tractor and Craig Barrett. Made to look like a train, the tractor had a plywood covering painted like an engine and was hauling a yellow wooden car and a red caboose.

Barrett, 18, who will be a senior this year at Musselman High School, said summer is one of the few times he has to relax. He's taking advantage of all that free time by working for Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation.

He was at the park Friday at 8 a.m. getting it ready for the day's festivities. By 3:30 p.m. Barrett estimated he had driven at least 100 people around the park, at a cost of $1 each. Money goes toward the park's fund.

Police had reported no problems by late afternoon. After several fights broke out last year, the fireworks finale had to be delayed about 30 minutes.

This year additional police officers, including some in plainclothes, patrolled the park. At the park's main entrance, a police cruiser and a large camper-type police unit flanked the gates.

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