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Storms hold off as Fairgrounds Park host Fourth of July event

July 04, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

Despite a weather forecast earlier Wednesday laced with a possibility for rain, hail and high winds, Independence Day revelers still headed to Hagerstown's Fairgrounds Park in droves for the annual festivities and fireworks.

That doesn't mean they weren't taking some precautions.

"I'll take my umbrella with me, then it won't rain for sure," said Allen Yoder as he sat in his truck at the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex waiting for darkness before heading over to the park.

Yoder and his friend, Phyllis Adelsberger, were making an evening of it.

"We had our dinner at Cracker Barrel and then here for fireworks," he said.

Capt. Charles Summers and a number of Hagerstown Police Department officers were at the park to control traffic and make sure the celebration went off without a hitch.

While Summers said it rained a few times during the early evening hours, people still were coming to the park and the show still was on.

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Following opening ceremonies at 6 p.m., two bands entertained the crowds as well as nearby residents who were positioned to both see and hear the activities from their own homes.

Cindy Chirdon and her family come every year, but because of the weather forecast, they decided to eat their takeout dinners in their vehicle and wait and see.

She and her husband, Thomas Chirdon, their son, Mark Chirdon, 15, and his friend, Sawyer Gardenhour, also 15, were hanging out in the family vehicle along with Cindy's mother, Martha Barnhart.

"We usually trek over about 7:30 p.m.," Cindy Chirdon said.

Annapolis residents Richard Meredith and his friend, CeCe Newbrough, had spent the day in nearby Harpers Ferry, W.Va., with CeCe's son, Donovan Newbrough, when they did some checking on where fireworks would be set off for July 4.

"Hagerstown seemed to be the closest, so we came here," he said.

Papa and Granny - aka Henry and Peggy Carroll - ventured to Fairgrounds Park with their grandchildren, Kathryn, nicknamed "Dokie," 3, and Danny, 1.

"We're here for the duration," said Henry Carroll, adding they were hoping the rain would hold off.

For those unwilling to face the traffic woes near the park, there was a trolley service from the parking lot in the former Ames shopping center on Dual Highway, courtesy of the City of Hagerstown.

Others only made it as far as that parking lot - on purpose.

Larry E. "Smiley" Jackson brought his wife, Paula Jackson, his sister, Linda Smith, his sister-in-law, Melinda Smith, and her husband, George, to park in that lot.

"We know the good spot," Larry Jackson said. His stepson, Sheldon Crossland, 9, and friend, David Murdock, 11, were snacking on popcorn brought from home waiting for the fireworks to begin.

At 7:07 p.m., Summers said it looked like the rain was over.

"The crowd is coming in pretty good," he said. "They're planning on shooting (the fireworks) right on time."

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