What's your favorite city walk? Tell us and win a free meal

June 22, 2005|by BOB MAGINNIS

Years ago when I lived on Broadway in Hagerstown, one of my favorite pastimes was walking around that picturesque North End neighborhood.

I went down Broadway to North Mulberry Street, up to Fairgrounds Avenue, then across to Potomac Avenue and back down to Broadway again.

It wasn't a long walk, but there was something very relaxing about just strolling along, admiring the architecture and wondering if I would ever have a house as nice as some of those I saw.

There are places all over the city where it's enjoyable to walk, according to Ruth Anne Callaham. Callaham, who recently ran an unsuccessful bid for city council, is making it her mission to promote Hagerstown as a walkable city.


Callaham said the idea came out of something called the Neighborhood College, run by Larry Bayer, the city's director of community development.

The idea is for citizens to learn more about city government, what it does and hopefully, to inspire them to become more involved.

"One of the concepts that came out of a convention that Larry attended was promoting the walkability of the city. The more people there are on the streets, the safer they are," she said.

Callaham did a lot of walking during the campaign and said she found some "lovely, lovely homes that I wouldn't have imagined were there."

Callaham said there is one route she'd like to walk, but hasn't done it yet.

"I'd like to visit the museum in City Park, walk up South Prosect Street, then turn on Washington Street and go into the center of town," she said.

Callaham and her husband Art now want to promote the idea of Hagerstown as a walkable city and hope to get more people interested in the volksmarch, a feature of the city's Augustoberfest celebration for several years.

According to, a volksmarch is a 10-kilometer trek followed by a meal and usually some beer.

Charles Sekula, owner of the Schmankerl Stube restaurant on South Potomac Street, said the tradition also includes carrying a walking stick, on which medallions from the different towns one walks through are affixed.

Karen Giffin, the city's public information manager, said that in this region, pins are preferred and volksmarchers collect them.

As part of this year's Augustoberfest celebration, which will be held Saturday, Aug. 13 and Sunday, Aug. 14, a group called the Piedmont Pacers will take off on a volksmarch, with registration starting at 8 a.m. Saturday.

"Last year they had at least 200 people who registered for the walk," she said.

"For many of these people, it's a social thing," Sekula said, adding that volksmarchers enjoy meeting new people and seeing old friends on such outings.

Giffin said that this year there will be a 10K walk, a shorter 5K trail and a 1K option for both of those.

Last year's route led walkers through the North End to City Park, then back to downtown. Giffin said volksmarchers can sign up at any time from 8 a.m. to noon at the city's central parking lot on North Potomac Street. They may then complete the course quickly or in a more leisurely manner, she said.

Giffin said it's a noncompetitive walk that is designed for fun, fellowship and exercise.

This year's Augustoberfest celebration will commemorate the area's German heritage on both days. The old-time rock 'n' roll previously included has been dropped to make it more of a family event, Giffin said.

The event costs $7 per day for adults, with children age 12 and younger for free, provided they're accompanied by a ticket-holding adult.

For more information on the volksmarch or Augustoberfest, you may call Giffin's office at 301-739-8577, ext. 116, or visit, where tickets will soon be on sale.

Do you have a favorite place to walk in Hagerstown? If so, we'd like you to describe it to us, in 200 words or less.

Tell us about the streets you walk, but give us more than the route. Tell us what you see that makes the journey enjoyable, whether it's the architecture of the buildings, the tall shade trees, the flower gardens or even the people you meet.

Send us your entries by Wednesday, July 6. The winning entry will receive a gift certificate for dinner for two at Schmankerl Stube, courtesy of Sekula.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

The Herald-Mail Articles