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Chartered bus to be provided for annual Memorial Illumination at Antietam Dec. 1

November 12, 2007

The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau is chartering a bus Dec. 1 for the 19th annual Memorial Illumination at Antietam National Battlefield. Fifty tickets are being sold for anyone who is interested in attending.

The bus will be brought to the front of the staging area, according to organizers of the illumination.

Charissa Stanton, the CVB's public relations specialist, will be the tour guide for the evening. She is a former park ranger at Antietam and a public affairs specialist for the National Park Service. Stanton served as the public information officer for the illumination several times, and once was called upon to guide a CNN news crew through the Memorial Illumination.

"The illumination is a must-see event at Antietam," Stanton said. "It is absolutely breathtaking. It has long been said that there is no better way to see the illumination than from the elevated windows of a comfortable bus."

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Since 1989, an annual remembrance of the battle of Antietam has been held the first Saturday in December. It is signified by 23,110 luminaries, one placed every 15 feet along a 5-mile route, throughout the fields, and around monuments. Volunteers systematically set up the luminaries throughout the day, and candles are lit starting at 3 p.m. It has been estimated that more than 20,000 people experience the illumination, from 6 p.m. until midnight. According to Antietam officials, last year more than 13,000 vehicles passed through the park during the event.

Georgene Charles, founder and chairman of the annual Memorial Illumination at Antietam, notes that some volunteers have traveled to Sharpsburg every year since the illumination started 19 years ago. "We have volunteer groups from as far away as Canada, North Carolina, Michigan, throughout Pennsylvania and many other places, who come each year to help set and light the luminaries," Charles says. "We believe that this event is the largest volunteer one-day event in Washington County, with over 1,300 people helping bring the impact of the Battle of Antietam to light." Charles said that the annual illumination "honors all the soldiers who fought here, and the illumination is a way to contribute, and be proud to be Americans."

At last year's Memorial Illumination, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett said during the opening ceremonies, "Not one of the 23,110 luminaries is labeled North or South. This has been set aside, and honors all the casualties."

Tickets for the CVB charter bus are available from the Visitor Welcome Center at 6 N. Potomac St. in downtown Hagerstown. The cost is $18 for adults and $13 for ages 12 and younger. The bus will depart from the Visitor Welcome Center at 6 p.m. the night of Dec. 1. In case of inclement weather, refunds will be issued. For more information, call 301-791-3246.

For more information about Hagerstown-Washington County, go to www.maryland memories.com. For more information about the Memorial Illumination, go to www.nps.gov/anti/planyourvisit/luminary.htm or www.marylandmemories.org/abi_07.html.

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