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Annual Lollipopalooza keeps kids dancing in the aisles

August 18, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

It was a typical, wild music festival: Most of the fans wore face paint and raised their hands on cue with the music, while the older fans stood in line to buy their drinks.

The third annual Lollipopalooza rang in Sunday at Hagerstown Community College's alumni amphitheater with the simple strums of banjo player BanjerDan, who encouraged his generally elementary-school-aged audience to howl like animals.

In one weekend, Dan Mazer, a.k.a. BanjerDan, might play in a bar, a retirement home and a children's party. Children, he said, are honest, which is why he enjoys playing music for them.

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"Adults will just sit and listen politely, even if they don't like it," he said.

Children, however, are a little more open about their feelings.

Mazer, 43, said he noticed a boy, about 9 years old, rolling his eyes during one of his songs.

He said the child looked like he may have been thinking BanjerDan's rhymes were predictable, an idea BanjerDan admitted was true.

"They're so sophisticated at that point," he said, joking.

BanjerDan also notices when children respond well to his music. He saw a group of girls, who appeared to be a little too old to appreciate "Wheels on the Bus," approach the stage and roll through the motions, encouraging others to do the same.

In addition to BanjerDan, Mom and Me, a Frederick, Md.-based musical act, sang and danced for the children at the event. The step team from the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County also performed, said Jamie Shyda, HCC's assistant director of college activities.

Kendall Sigman, 7, of Frederick, is a backup singer for Mom and Me, a mother-and-daughter singing and dancing duo.

Kendall is not new to the entertainment industry. She sang at a Frederick Keys minor league baseball game Sunday morning and has performed at Disney World.

"It's just really fun and it helps me if I want to be a singer," she said.

The entertainment was part of a day-long birthday celebration for Emily Irwin, 7. Emily and 13 of her friends came out to Lollipopalooza Sunday after making crafts at home and before going out for pizza.

Each of the partyers brought a handful of school supplies to the festival, a donation to Children in Need Inc., which Shyda said was suggested in lieu of charging admission fees.

"It certainly teaches the children that there are children who are not as fortunate as they are," said Emily's mom, Sally Irwin, 41.

Children in Need, a nonprofit organization with local headquarters in a basement warehouse at the Martin Luther King Center on North Street in Hagerstown, is open on Friday mornings to families who qualify for free and reduced-priced meals through Washington County Public Schools, said Joy Rath, the local chapter's vice president.

By 5:30 p.m., more than halfway through the two-hour event, at least six cardboard boxes of school supplies had been donated to the nonprofit organization.

Joshawa Emory, 11, of Smithsburg, said he liked being at the free concert Sunday.

He was on his way to bounce in the Fun House, a huge, inflated trampoline.

"I'd rather be out here instead of inside playing," he said.

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