Antietam National Battlefield ready for the show

July 01, 2010|By DAN DEARTH
  • Greg Warren, left, and Steve Brindle, while they stand on a tarp, test the American flag that usually hangs as a backdrop for the festivities for Saturday's Salute to Independence at Antietam.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer,

SHARPSBURG -- National Park Service employees have pretty much finished preparing for the annual fireworks celebration Saturday night at Antietam National Battlefield.

A few technicians were the only ones racing around Thursday afternoon performing sound checks on the speaker system.

Ed Wenschhof Jr., chief park ranger at Antietam National Battlefield, said the last piece of the puzzle will be laid Saturday when the Maryland Army National Guard brings in howitzers to fire during the "1812 Overture."

"That's it," he said. "All the other key pieces are in place."

Wenschhof said scaffolding was set up last week behind the Visitors Center to hold the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, which is to begin playing patriotic music at 7:30 p.m. The fireworks display will start about two hours later.

Roughly 120 employees from the National Park Service and several agencies across Washington County chalked walkways, set out dozens of trash cans and performed other tasks to help the event run more smoothly, Wenschhof said. More than 60 portable toilets were brought in earlier this week.


At least 20,000 people are expected Saturday, Wenschhof said. Despite allowing visitors to bring alcohol, he said only one person has been arrested in the last 19 years.

"It's pretty mild," Wenschhof said. "It's a pretty well-behaved crowd."

Wenschhof said the Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Department will be out in full force to handle emergencies.

People won't be permitted to start laying tarps in the seating area until 6 a.m. on the day of the event, Wenschhof said. The maximum tarp size will be limited to 10 feet by 10 feet.

Wenschhof said park officials want to encourage people to bring flashlights and to remember landmarks near their vehicles.

"They'll need to be able to find their vehicle in the dark," he said.

Wenschhof said traffic delays after the event are estimated to be about 90 minutes.

If you go:

o Bring a blanket, plenty of water or soft drinks and a flashlight. The Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Medical Service will sell food and drinks at the event.

o Be prepared to walk to and from the event.

o Expect a crowd of as many as 30,000 people.

o Label property with your name.

o Don't bring pets.

o Don't solicit.

o Don't place tarps before 6 a.m. Saturday. Tarps placed before this time will be removed. The maximum size tarp or reserved area per group is 10 feet by 10 feet. Tarps not occupied by 7 p.m. on the evening of the concert also will be removed.

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