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Can you help Alsatians with Mummers Parade?

June 10, 2004

The Alsatia Club, the organization that puts on Western Maryland's largest parade, needs some help.

An aging membership that's dwindled in numbers is finding it increasingly difficult to raise the more than $25,000 needed each year to run the Mummers Parade.

And a group whose average age is 58 is also finding it tougher to do the physical labor of assembling the bleachers and placing 3,000 chairs along the route.

This parade, which will be held for the 80th time this year, is a tradition that draws tens of thousands of people to Hagerstown every fall. We urge companies that can help with corporate sponsorships to do so, and ask citizens with strong backs to lend them to the cause.

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The Mummers Parade was originally begun as a way to give mischievous youths something to do so that they wouldn't vandalize property on Halloween.

Members emphasize, however, that the event is not a Halloween parade, but a family evening presented to entertain and to showcase local youngsters' musical talents.

For years, the club awarded cash prizes to the best marching bands, but after a great deal of debate, members voted to eliminate what had been an $8,500-a-year expense.

Even though the parade is financed through the sale of reserved seating on bleachers and chairs, after all of last year's bills were paid, there was only $2,000 left to begin this year's parade with. That's not much, considering that tickets alone will cost $150 or more to print.

The Alsatians emphasize that many local businesses and the City of Hagerstown do a great deal for the event. But like everything else, nothing is getting cheaper, while the people who raise the funds and do most of the work are getting older.

We urge the businesses that benefit from the out-of-town visitors this event draws - motels, restaurants, etc. - to strongly consider a donation to this effort, or possibly sponsors the grand marshal.

Others might want to consider a membership in the club. Dues are just $30 a year, and all it takes to apply is completing an application and getting it signed by two Alsatia members.

To get one, write to the Alsatia Club, 141 W. Washington St., Hagerstown, MD, 21740.

We urge the club to also consider two other strategies for fund-raising - recruiting social members whose chief contribution would be their annual dues and creating one large annual fund-raiser to raise the cash for next year's parade. A tradition this venerable needs additional help if it's to survive for the next 80 years.




Time to push recycling



The news that Washington County might have to truck its trash out of state because a bid for landfill construction came in millions over budget is not good news.

The landfill on U.S. 40 West was supposed to take care of the area's need for more than 50 years. But, as the county commissioners said earlier this year when they discussed raising landfill fees, more garbage than anticipated is going into the facility.

We suggest that this would be a great time to make an appeal to users to recycle more of their trash. The less reusable waste that must be buried, the more space will be available for the stuff that can't be disposed of in any other way.

Even a casual visitor to the main landfill - or the county's transfer stations, for that matter - can see that a great deal of what's being dumped could be recycled. Lots of corrugated cardboard boxes, which could be broken down and recycled, end up in the dump bins. So do many cans and glass bottles.

It would be prohibitively expensive to station landfill employees to watch what's dumped and try to persuade those dumping it to do a better job of sorting what can be reused from what can't.

But for one week, why not give all visitors a flier describing the problem and how recycling might help? Haulers who pick up from neighborhoods could distribute the message with their bills.

If it convinces the majority that it's time to get serious about cutting down the number of items in the waste stream, it will be money well-spent. If it doesn't, then landfill users will have one less excuse to complain the next time rates are increased.

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