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"Good Morning America" originates from Harpers Ferry

September 19, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. -- It wasn't your average Amtrak train arrival.

An energized crowd waited Thursday morning, as the "Good Morning America" crew arrived at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

Fans filled the lower town area to see the anchors at work on the daily television show.

The visit by the ABC team was part of the show's broadcast of the "50 States in 50 Days" whistle-stop train tour leading to the general election. The "Good Morning America" team was in Ohio on Wednesday and was heading to Washington, D.C., after the Harpers Ferry appearance, according to the show's Web site.

Spectators began arriving in Arsenal Square in the lower town area about 7 a.m., and about 200 people congregated around a set of wooden steps leading to the railroad tracks that run along the Shenandoah River.

The Amtrak train rolled in, and across the cars read "Good Morning America, Whistle Stop 08. Vote 08."

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Spectators were given instructions on how to act, including allowing a path for anchors as they began making their way into the park.

"Do not crowd in on them. But they want to hear lots of applause and cheering," said Dennis Frye, chief of interpretation and cultural resource management for the park.

When anchors Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts, Chris Cuomo and Sam Champion emerged from the train and began walking down the steps, whoops and cheers went up from the crowd.

The anchors smiled, waved and shook hands with spectators when they reached the bottom of the steps.

Jerry and Ethel Mauck, who live in the Molers Crossroads area near Shepherdstown, W.Va., said they are longtime "Good Morning America" fans and used to watch the show when David Hartman and Joan Lunden were anchors.

Jerry Mauck said it was a "historic moment" for the show to spotlight Harpers Ferry.

"It's beautiful here. So I'm glad the country will get to see that," Mauck said.

Regarding beauty, the show received rave reviews from the community over its portrayal of the area, and there was talk about how people who didn't see the show could get recordings of it.

Several helicopters buzzed around in the river valley, and Todd Bolton, supervisory park ranger, said he was told that footage was being shot from the air.

During the show, beautiful scenes of the sun rising in the river valley and fog rising were shown, Frye said.

"It was just stupendous," Frye said.

"I think it's a great day for Harpers Ferry. We're glad to have them here," said Harpers Ferry Mayor Jim Addy, who was moving through the crowd dressed in a black sportcoat with an American flag tucked in its pocket.

The event had a down-home flavor, too, as the local bluegrass band Patent Pending played in a grassy area near the intersection of High and Shenandoah streets. At one point, Sawyer, Cuomo and Roberts did some square dancing to the music in the middle of High Street.

The anchors moved through different parts of town, stopping at points such as John Brown's Fort. There were long breaks between their parts and spectators waited patiently as the anchors waited for their next speaking parts.

The scene was rushed at times as spectators ran ahead of the crew and people took photographs.

Also part of the show was an appearance by television chef celebrity Paula Deen. Deen's crew set up a table for her on High Street to do a taste-testing segment and she prepared the food ahead of time at a restaurant in the lower town Wednesday night, Frye said.

Spectators were proud to show off their photographs and relate their experiences with the TV personalities.

Cheryl Strider of Shenandoah Junction said a friend from North Carolina called her on her cell phone after the friend saw Strider on television.

Strider said she also got a few moments with Deen.

"I got a picture with her," Strider said.

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