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33 try to sing for Suns

March 21, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- It was like "American Idol" without the sour judges Saturday at Municipal Stadium as contestants from across the Tri-State area auditioned for a chance to sing the national anthem at Hagerstown Suns games this season.

Of the 33 contestants who tried out, about 25 will be chosen to perform before the games, said Reed Hunley, the Suns' director of promotions and special events. Because the Suns have 70 home games this year, some of the contestants will be asked to sing more than once.

"We give everyone the opportunity to display their talents," Hunley said. "We don't turn them away."

The contestants stood in the batter's box along the first-base line at Municipal Stadium and sang into a microphone. Some performed flawlessly, while one man fumbled the lyrics, apologized and picked up where he left off.

All of the contestants received an ovation from about 35 people who were sitting in the stands.

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Madison Hull, 9, said she was a little nervous before she auditioned with the other members of the Chambersburg (Pa.) Area Kids Ensemble.

"We've been practicing as a group a lot, and I practiced in front of my parents yesterday," she said. "I'm pretty much ready."

Many of the contestants said they were more worried about singing in front of an audience than forgetting the words to the song.

Wanda Swan of Williamsport said she didn't have time to practice because she found out about the auditions Friday at work.

"I had notes, but I didn't use them," she said. "I learned ("The Star-Spangled Banner") in sixth-grade chorus."

Della Shank of Inwood, W.Va., said she recently moved back to the Tri-State area after living in Florida for the last 20 years.

"I'm a little nervous," Shank said. "I've never tried to perform it in front of a group before."

Shank said she was impressed by the children who turned out to audition.

"They sang their hearts out and knew all the words," Shank said. "It's very inspiring."

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