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More than 200 attend library's gala fundraiser

October 02, 2005|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

alician@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN

There were no plaid "high-water" pants or horn-rimmed eyeglasses at the library Saturday night.

The age-old geeky bookworm image was laid to rest as more than 200 people filed into the Washington County Free Library's main branch dressed to the nines for the sixth annual Gala in the Stacks fundraiser.

Pat Wishard, library public relations and program coordinator, said the $100-per-ticket black tie affair has raised $125,000 over the past five years.

"It generates a lot of excitement," Wishard said. "We get a lot of community support."

A memorabilia display highlighted the evening's theme, "On the Road," a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Washington County's bookmobile, which Wishard said was the first bookmobile in the United States.

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A Teddy Roosevelt impersonator welcomed people to the library, which was transformed to represent Washington County in the early 1900s. Signs bearing the names of area towns hung from gas lamps, indicating stops made by the traveling book cart.

Doug Mills and his wife, Beth Beckner-Mills, of Falling Waters, W.Va., attended the event - he in a black tuxedo and she in a velvet long-sleeved magenta top and a white floor-length skirt.

"People enjoy getting dressed up in tuxedos and gowns," Beth Beckner-Mills said. "We have an agreement - whenever he is in a tux, I'm in a long gown, and vice versa,"

Brad Reynolds and his wife, Brenda, of Hagerstown, said between children and work, they don't often go out for a formal evening.

"It's fun to do this, especially to benefit the community and the library," Brad Reynolds said.

"It's nice to get dressed up once in a while," former Hagerstown Mayor Bill Breichner said. "It adds some decorum to the town."

On the main floor of the library, people danced to the music of Just Us, tasted wine from Maryland Vineyards and had books signed by author Roy VanDerLinden. A caricaturist and a tarot card reader offered entertainment in the mezzanines.

"It's great having this event here at the library because it's such an important place for the whole entire community. It reaches from the oldest to the youngest," said Haven Younger of Hagerstown, who sported a striking taupe silk chemise and pant set, draped with a Carolina blue pashmina shawl.

Todd and Katie Hershey of Keedysville said that as the home-schooling parents of six children, they frequently visit the library.

"As much as I love books, this is a beautiful transformation of the library," Katie Hershey said.

John Hershey III, vice president of the Washington County Free Library board of trustees, was honorary co-chairman of the event along with John Barr. Hershey said the gala is designed to raise community awareness of the library and generate building funds.

"The last several years, people are realizing what a gem the Washington County Free Library is and they want to support it," Hershey said.

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