Housing increase could force annual fireworks display to fizzle

June 25, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN - People camped out at the Long Meadow Shopping Center parking lot Friday night lamented the possible end of 40 years of fireworks.

But they weren't letting it get them down yet.

Rather, they were anticipating - hours in advance - one more fun round of colorful bursts in the sky.

Spectators were reacting to comments by Debra Hunt, the chief event organizer, who said Wednesday, "I think it's probably going to be the last year ... With growth and development, you can't shoot off a fireworks display too close to buildings."

"I was at the first and I'm at the last," said Loreda Elgin of Hagerstown.

She and her sister-in-law, Nancy Elgin, danced with 6-year-old twins Madelyn and Sage Rowland. Nearby, a band played Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Serenade" and Katrina and the Waves' "Walking on Sunshine."


Nancy Elgin and her husband, Richard, said they have seen the fireworks for many years from their house a few miles away, but it was their first time watching at the shopping center.

Gordon and Emma Sprankle got to their regular spot, near Sovereign Bank, about 5:30 p.m.

They have experienced about 50 years of fireworks, they said, right back to the early displays at Hagerstown's Fairgrounds Park.

As the Long Meadow parking lot filled up, Emma Sprankle said she can mark the time because her son, Robert Summers, was 1 and now he's 51.

Robert and his wife, Charmain, were with their son, Michael, and his girlfriend, Ashley Smith. Robert and Charmain Summers' 4-year-old grandson, Matthew, sat nearby.

The extended family made an evening out of it, eating sandwiches together.

Jim Ashworth of Hagerstown had a crystal-clear recollection of how long he has seen Long Meadow fireworks. He and his wife, Sissy, have been married 29 years, which is how long they have been coming to the show.

Jim remembered getting hit with a fireworks fragment that dropped from the sky that night. He still has it.

As each group stared across Leitersburg Pike to the field where the fireworks originate, they couldn't ignore that a neighborhood is forming there.

So, the end might be here, or near.

This will be the last year "if they build a couple more homes there," Loreda Elgin said.

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