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Annual yard sale draws thousands

July 05, 2006|by TAMELA BAKER

HAGERSTOWN

Some Americans celebrate their independence with fireworks.

Some engage in a few innings of the American pastime.

Still others throw a few dogs and burgers on the grill and gather friends and family for an afternoon picnic.

But just north of the city limits, thousands descend on the neighborhoods surrounding Paradise Church Road to celebrate that staple of the American free enterprise system: the yard sale.

In its 27th year, the Mile-Long Yard Sale stretches well beyond a mile and draws bargain hunters from well beyond Hagerstown.

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"It's become a generational family-type thing," said David Nycum, who, with wife Debbie, happily watched shoppers browsing their wares - or what was left of them by about 10:30 a.m.

So far, they'd racked up nearly $500, Debbie Nycum said. In the 13 to 14 years they've participated, she added, they've made as much as $1,500.

"It's a great neighborhood thing," David Nycum said.

"It's a festival," added his wife.

Up Olde Waterford Road from the Nycums' home, James Thomas of Towson, Md., clad in an Uncle Sam costume complete with striped trousers and blue tails, wished everyone a "merry Fourth of July" as he directed them to the heavily laden tables in his in-laws' driveway.

"We love doing this," he said. "My wife and I have participated since 1997."

They'd started pricing items Friday night and worked right through the weekend, he said. They' started bringing sale items out at 6 a.m., he said, but "people started coming last night, scoping things out."

Even children were pressed into service at some homes, peddling bottled water and cans of soda to shoppers whose thirsts rose with the temperature.

Yard sale enthusiasts swarmed in and out of the streets, seemingly oblivious to the bumper-to-bumper traffic. Cars stopped in the street provoked action from the Washington County Sheriff's Office as Deputy P. Kammerer, originally directing traffic on Longmeadow Road, responded to a complaint about an empty car clogging traffic on Paradise Church Road. A tow truck was summoned, and Kammerer warned that any other car parked on the street would be towed.

"Literally, the safety of every person here is at risk," he said as the gridlock would keep emergency vehicles from reaching the neighborhood. He said he would remain on yard-sale duty "as long as issues and problems persist."

Proving you can market just about anything at a yard sale, Adam and Leighann Green plopped a bathtub in their driveway, and by 10:30 had some serious inquiries, according to Adam's parents, Jim and Vicki Green of Smithsburg. They said the tub interested a woman remodeling her house, but "she was going to call her husband" before committing.

Leighann Green said she and her husband had just moved into the neighborhood from Maugansville, so this was their first yard sale experience. "It's pretty wild," she said.

The tub wasn't the only big-ticket item for sale; sitting in Deborah Johnson's yard was her daughter's 2003 Mitsubishi Spyder, with a $10,750 price tag. Johnson said with two small children, her daughter found the car just wasn't practical anymore.

Johnson said she'd been participating in the sale for 11 years. "We always make more than we thought we would," she observed.

Michelle Stanicek and Rhonda King of Maugansville started shopping at about 7 a.m., and calculated they'd walked three miles in 2 1/2 hours. "We do this every year," King said, lugging one bag of baked goods and another bag of other goods. "Everyone's junk is someone else's treasure."

Around the corner, Tabitha McDonald and Sherri Bailey of Mercersburg, Pa., had filled a little red wagon with treasures - their third load of the morning. Each said she'd spent $50.

Yard-sale shopping is an annual ritual for them as well. "We actually make sure there are no surgeries, no pregnancies and no weddings" to interfere, McDonald said.

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