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Smithsburg swells Pride Days celebration

July 19, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

SMITHSBURG -- The community of Smithsburg might seem to have a proverbial spring in its step at the 15th annual Smithsburg Pride Days event.

After Pride Days thrived for more than a decade as a street festival, organizers moved the event last year to Veterans Park. During the transition, the committee maintained its previous vendors, added fireworks and other attractions, and drew a crowd of around 2,500 people.

This year, Pride Days burgeoned, more than doubling its number of vendors from less than 30 to 74, adding additional attractions and offering a more elaborate fireworks display.

The event continues Sunday.

Joann Celestial and Charles Patrick Baker have co-coordinated the community celebration for the past three years. Smithsburg Town Councilman Charlie Slick organized the first Smithsburg Pride Days in 1988 to celebrate the town's 175th anniversary and remained involved until he passed away in 2006.

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"You see something get started as good as this is, this good for the community, and you don't want to see it not be done anymore," Baker said. "So we picked it up and carried it on."

Celestial said the organizing committee relocated the event for several reasons, including additional space to add vendors, easier access for attendees and improved security. Smithsburg Town Councilman Jack Wenthe called the move "the best thing that ever happened" to Pride Days.

"People really like it here in a more open space," he said.

Wenthe noted the importance of the event in maintaining and building a sense of community as Smithsburg has seen significant expansion and development in recent years.

"It brings people in to meet each other," Wenthe said. "I would call Smithsburg a bedroom community. There are so many people living here who work downtown in (Washington) D.C. This gives them a chance to meet each other."

Tom Middlekauff, who has lived in Ringgold for about four years, went to Pride Days with his parents and his 4-year-old daughter Hannah.

"I just wanted to enjoy what's happening," Tom Middlekauff said.

Vendors peddled wares as diverse as home décor, mobile home plans, weight-loss supplements and food. There was a 5K run, parade, Civil War re-enactment and street dance, as well as pony rides and traditional children's games.

Trista Heare of Smithsburg, said she had not attended Pride Days since she was a girl. This year, she took her 1-year-old daughter, Tatyana Mendoza.

"There is more here than there used to be. I know that," Heare said.

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