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Tiny acts among fan favorites during Mummers Parade

October 26, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

Older men squeezed into little motorized cars driving around in circles, marching bands strutting their stuff and little girls dressed up and twirling batons ... these are a few of the crowd's favorite sights during the Mummers Parade.

And they're all back Saturday night for the 82nd annual Alsatia Mummers Parade through downtown Hagers-town.

The parade starts at 7 p.m. at the North End's point at Oak Hill Avenue and Charles Street and ends at Howard Street in the South End.

Mummers are people dressed in costume; anything that's not normal dress, says James McCleaf II, president and chairman for the parade.

People don't have to belong to the Alsatia Club to be a mummer for the day. Just show up in costume in front of Bill's Other Yard Sale, 672 Oak Hill Ave., between 5:30 and 6:45 p.m. Saturday to sign up and march in the parade. Anyone younger than 10 should be accompanied by an adult.

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With 190 units signed up this year, this could be one of the largest Mummers Parades ever, McCleaf says. He believes the most units ever in the Mummers Parade was 198 in 2001 because of the wave of patriotism after Sept. 11.

The National Weather Service forecast on Wednesday called for a slight chance of rain and a low around 38 degrees Saturday evening.

The parade will happen rain or shine with a crowd of about 100,000 people expected if the rain stays away, McCleaf says.

As usual, lots of food vendors are expected along the route offering hot food and beverages as well as cold sodas. Many of those vendors will be nonprofit groups.

This year's grand marshals will be the entire staff of NBC25. The club chose the local television crew in appreciation for the station's 25 years of service to the community, McCleaf says.

Fan favorites will be positioned throughout the parade. There will be about two dozen marching bands, including every public high school band in Washington County.

Other acts that usually engender lots of applause as well as sweet oohs and awws are tiny tots and children who dress up and perform with batons or pom poms.

This includes the Williamettes, the Washington County Show Kids and the Silver Starlettes.

"People just love to see the little kids," McCleaf says. "The parade is for the kids."

The Starlettes include 75 boys and girls ranging in age from 18 years to 7 months. Seven-month-old Dara Olden, who has already started twirling a baton, will be pulled in a Starlette wagon, says Rocky Willis. Willis is co-director of the Fairplay-based group with Karen Startzman.

This year, the Starlettes will feature baton-twirling majorettes, pompoms, an honor guard and two new groups - a drum line and a military step drill team.

The drum line consists of five boys ages 5 to 7, while the military-style step drill team is eight Starlette dads. The dads will march behind the honor guard.

The Starlettes are members of the Capital Area Marching Association and compete 11 months of the year, including at the Ocean City, Md., Firemen's Convention parade.

The Starlettes are the association's grand champions this year in the intermediate division for majorettes, Willis says.

As much traveling as they do, the kids really look forward to the Mummers Parade because it is the hometown parade, Willis says.

"Everybody is absolutely geared up for the Mummers Parade," she says.




If you go ...



WHAT: 82nd annual Alsatia Mummers Parade

WHEN: Beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28

WHERE: Along Hagerstown's Potomac Street, from the point at Oak Hill Avenue and Charles Street to Howard Street.

COST: Free. However, there is a $5 charge for general admission seats in the bleachers in front of Bester Elementary School and a $10 charge for reserved seats. Reserved seats will be along South Potomac Street near Bester, in the area of Public Square and along North Potomac Street.

MORE: For tickets, call 301-790-2000, go to www.mdtheatre.org or stop by The Maryland Theatre box office at 27 S. Potomac St. in Hagerstown between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays or from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.

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