Fewer mummers. More floats.

October 25, 2007|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

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Roughly 200 units will be entered in the 83rd Alsatia Mummers Parade, a citywide Halloween fete down Potomac Street that attracts as many as 100,000 spectators each year, organizers said.

The parade, about three hours long, starts at 7 p.m. Saturday in the city's North End and disbands at South Hagerstown High School.

Tom Riford, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, is this year's grand marshal.

Prizes will be given to best-dressed mummers, best floats and the best marching bands.

Marvin House, former three-time Alsatia Club president, who has been with the club for 34 years, said the number of float entries have been on the rise, while fewer people were dressing as mummers.


The parade draws an average of 10,000 participants, House said. In recent years, the number of mummers' contest participants has been as low as 10 to as many as 30, House said.

The floats are generating a buzz all their own, organizers said.

We're getting fewer mummers than we had years ago, said House, 66, of Hedgesville, W.Va. "Now, we're getting more floats."

Washington County Rural Heritage Museum - which took second place in the parade's Amateur Floats category last year - has been working on its float for three months.

The 55-foot-long float has a fountain with running water, real snow and a wooden horse that moves.

"We're trying to get first place this year," said Leslie Hendrickson, museum administrator.

The phrase "Come Visit Us in All Seasons" stretches along the side of the float. It's a phrase that its builders hope onlookers will follow, said museum volunteer Gerald "Jerry" Poffenberger, who's among the dozen volunteers building the float.

"We want people to come visit (the museum) all year," said Poffenberger, 65, who lives east of Hagerstown.

This spring, the museum plans to open a new building that will house large farm equipment and other exhibits. A groundbreaking ceremony is set for Tuesday, Nov. 6, Hendrickson said.

The Alsatia Club is a civic organization that supports local youth sports programming and other community activities, House said. The Club, based in downtown Hagerstown, hosted its first Mummers Parade in 1921 as a way to keep kids from getting into mischief on Halloween. The venerable parade is considered one of the largest nighttime parades on the East Coast.

For more information about the Mummers Parade, call the Alsatia Club at 301-739-2044.

If you go

WHAT: 83rd Alsatia Mummers Parade

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27. The parade is about 3 hours long.

WHERE: Along Potomac Street, from Charles Street to Wilson Boulevard.

COST: $5 for bleacher seats in front of Bester Elementary School. $8 to reserve chairs along the parade route at North End, Public Square and Bester.

MORE: For more information about the Mummers Parade, call the Alsatia Club at 301-739-2044.


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