Clear Spring's Independence Jam grows

July 03, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER |
  • Fireworks explode over Clear Spring Sunday night during the sixth annual Independence Jam.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

CLEAR SPRING — Six years ago, Margaret Cornett had a vision for an event in Clear Spring.

She wanted a celebration of America.

It had to include music, good local food, games for kids and, of course, fireworks.

“Music, games, food and fireworks,” she said. “That’s the Fourth of July.”

And it had to be accessible so that everyone in her town, their families and their friends could gather to celebrate the birthday of our nation.

“We wanted something special for this community, for everybody to come together, and have a good time and celebrate the Fourth of July,” she said, adding extra emphasis on the word “this.”

“We’re a small community,” she said. “We have the right to celebrate, too.”

So Clear Spring’s Independence Jam was born, an event that continued in its sixth year Sunday near Plumb Grove, despite severe afternoon thunderstorms and the threat of more precipitation.

Sitting in her lawn chair at the jam Sunday, Cornett said the event has grown so much that it draws thousands of people, many who come great distances.

Until six years ago, the nearest place to get a decent showing of fireworks was Hagerstown, she said.

“There was nothing here,” she said. “So we just kind of put it together the first year.”

Now, people can sit at their homes, at one of the nearby schools or on the lawn near the historic Plumb Grove Mansion and watch the sky ignite.

While the Independence Jam might have been her idea, Cornett refused to take credit for its success.

“They have done an excellent job,” she said of the event committee. “These people, these very capable people, have taken over and done a fantastic job.”

“She gave us ideas, we put them together and six years later, we are still here,” committee member Juanita Grimm said. “(Independence Jam) is a great way to celebrate the country’s birthday.”

Grimm, Lori Divelbiss and David Wiles served on the event committee this year.

The jam is fully funded by donations, Grimm said.

Admission was free and food — including french fries, sandwiches, hot dogs, ice cream and popcorn — and beverages were available for purchase from vendors.

“It’s a big ol’ picnic and we want it to stay that way,” Divelbiss said.

Even with a potential rain date, Divelbiss said the fireworks show Sunday would happen rain or shine.

Behind her, a gray evening sky sparked with streaks of lightning.

A severe thunderstorm rolled through the area at about 3:30 p.m. Sunday and the National Weather Service lifted a severe thunderstorm watch for Washington County at 7:58 p.m.

But once the fireworks company arrived, the committee was contractually obligated to put on a show, Divelbiss said.

By 5 p.m., hundreds had arrived to listen to music from the evening’s lineup of performers and to wait for the show to start.

Children enjoyed various games provided by Hilltop Christian Fellowship. Families spread picnics on blankets and music filled the humid air.

Fireworks were scheduled to begin after 9:30 p.m.

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