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Thunder in the Square surpasses all expectations

September 30, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • Brian Brown puts some finishing touches on his 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS Friday during the Thunder in the Square car show in downtown Hagerstown.
By Chris Tilley/Staff Photographer

With more than 1,000 vehicles parked across four-blocks of downtown Hagerstown, the inaugural Thunder in the Square surpassed all expectations Friday.

"It worked," said Jim McCleaf, mayor of Williamsport and past president of the Alsatia Club. With a grin stretching from ear to ear, McCleaf said to club Secretary Gary Hammond: "I told you this would work."

"This far exceeded our expectations," Hammond said.

The Alsatia Club hosted the event as part of its 100-year anniversary celebration and as a fundraiser for other club events, such as the annual Mummers Parade.

Last year, the club held a similar car show at Fairgrounds Park, event Chairman Doug Snyder said. But that show only drew about 50 cars, he said.

When asked early Friday how many vehicles were entered in Thunder in the Square, Snyder estimated as many as 600.

But minutes after Snyder made his estimate, event emcee Tom Riford — who is also president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau — said more than 1,000 vehicles had been registered.

Stretching one block on either side of Public Square in Hagerstown, a mix of cars, trucks, motorcycles and tractors filled the streets. Within 30 minutes, the vehicles filled downtown, Snyder said.

Among the vehicles wandered thousands of people peering into engines or gazing past their reflections into shining paint.

For a $5 fee, owners could enter their vehicles in the show to be judged by a panel of judges, Snyder said.

All class winners were to be awarded a plaque and given the opportunity to ride in the Mummers Parade in October, he said.

As he looked around the event, Hammond credited its success to the combination of advertising and word of mouth done by the club, as well as to the city of Hagerstown, which closed the streets, sponsored the event and helped promote it.

Snyder said the hope is to make it an annual event in Hagerstown.

The inaugural Thunder in the Square was also held in conjunction with Wind Down Friday, an event of The Maryland Theatre. From 5 to 7 p.m. classic rock band, The Cruisers, entertained downtown. The Hagerstown Dance Band and Hub City Lindy Hop were also scheduled to perform.

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