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Advice: Prepare wisely for Antietam festivities

July 02, 2010|By DON AINES
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SHARPSBURG --A large crowd is expected tonight for the 25th annual Salute to Independence at Antietam National Battlefield, and Battlefield Superintendent John Howard advises those planning to attend to come prepared.

"The best advice we give to people is bring water and bring insect repellent of some kind," Howard said Friday.

The list of things to bring also should include comfortable shoes for getting to and from the parking areas and concert site, and a flashlight to find your way back, he said.

Those attending may enter the park as early as 6 a.m., but the largest numbers of people are expected to come in after 2:30 p.m., Howard said.

Sharpsburg Pike (Md. 65) and Shepherdstown Pike (Md. 34) should be navigable for motorists just passing through, he said.

"During the day, the traffic flows smoothly," Howard said.

Motorists might want to avoid the area at about 10 p.m., when the concert and fireworks end, Howard said. While people will be filtering in throughout the day, most of the expected 20,000 to 30,000 visitors will be leaving at the same time, he said.

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Those not entering the park at Starke Avenue entrance off Md. 65 may park along Md. 34, walk to the National Cemetery parking area and take commuter buses to the concert area, Howard said.

Afternoon temperatures could reach the low 90s, but should fall to the upper 70s by the time the Maryland Symphony Orchestra begins playing, he said.

The MSO will begin playing patriotic music at 7:30 p.m., and anyone who set up a tent or a canopy will have to take it down by 7 p.m. so views are unobstructed, Howard said.

Food and refreshments will be sold by the Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Medical Service, he said.

Though alcohol is allowed, the Salute to Independence is a family-friendly event and visitors do a good job of policing their own behavior, Howard said.

Rangers and other security will be making sure that anyone who drinks too much does not drive home, he said.

Some people will lose car keys, cell phones and other belongings, Howard said. Anyone who realizes they have lost something should find a park ranger, give them a description of the item and a contact number, he said.

"We do look when we're cleaning up the field, but it's a rare thing to recover something you lose," Howard said.

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