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Everybody, dance!

Pen Mar annual event draws people of all ages

Pen Mar annual event draws people of all ages

August 27, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

CASCADE - Many of the silver-haired couples swiveling and kicking their way across the dance floor Sunday at Pen Mar Park had been dancing the jitterbug since they were teenagers, but that didn't intimidate Kenny Hall.

Dressed in a red Mickey Mouse T-shirt, the 12-year-old from Walkersville, Md., spun his partner, 11-year-old Katie Henicle of Waynesboro, Pa., and lifted her for an A-frame aerial move. The two were selected, by measure of applause, as the winners of this year's Everybody's Day jitterbug contest.

In fact, the top three couples represented three different generations, with Chambersburg, Pa., couple Jessie and Justin Shiffler, ages 28 and 29, also among the winners. The Shifflers have four children and named their youngest daughter Lindy after the Lindy Hop.

"It goes to show that good music transcends the generations," said Lou Scally, 55, the "morning man" for Hagerstown radio station WJEJ, which is celebrating its 75th year.

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For her part, Katie said she loves listening to Big Band music - along with country and hip hop. She started swing dancing so she could perform in her fourth-grade talent show, studying with her aunt and uncle.

Kenny learned from his parents, who started dancing about three years ago for exercise, but then discovered the fun of attending competitions. Their children took an interest, too.

"They started saying, 'Oh, Mom, we can do that," said his mother, Courtney Hall. "Everybody's enjoying it, and the kids are getting exposed to great music that's 60-something years old."

Sunday's event, which also included a puppet show, historic car show and performances by Andy Angel Quartet, served to bring generations together for other families, as well.

For Mary Jo Ralls, 25, of Smithsburg, the event was an excuse to spend time with her mother and her 2-year-old nephew, Joey. The family staked out a picnic table at 8 a.m. and enjoyed a picnic of hamburgers and hot dogs.

"It's just the family getting together," Ralls said. "You see people you haven't seen in awhile."

The family has been going to Everybody's Day for about 10 years, she said.

It's an event that brings many people back year after year, said Ray Shegogue, 87, of Winchester, Va., who has been attending with his wife for about 20 years.

In 2001, they won the jitterbug contest after friends "dragged" them onto the dance floor, he said.

This year, they watched from the bench of a picnic table, but they were still infected by the swing rhythm drifting up from the pavilion.

"If you love big band music, this is the place to be," he said.

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