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Cheering and good cheer abound during Shepherdstown Fourth of July picnic

July 04, 2013|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Jefferson County Commissioner Jane Tabb pilots a John Deere tractor through the streets of Shepherdstown, W.Va., for Thursday's Fourth of JUly Parade.
Photo by Richard F. Belisle

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — In typical American fashion, Shepherdstown celebrated the nation’s 237th birthday Thursday with a “bigger than usual parade” and an “old-fashioned, laid-back, family-oriented Fourth of July picnic.”

So said Peter Smith, a member of the Shepherdstown Rotary Club, which sponsors both annual events.

The 42-unit parade began its march and roll down German Street at 11 a.m. The picnic got under way at Morgans Grove Park at 1 p.m. and lasted until about 3 p.m., or until “people got tired,” Smith said.

There was a problem or two, like when half of the grill cooking hamburgers and hot dogs, the picnic’s main fare, broke down and created a traffic jam of meal ticket holders. Rotary President Paul Woods added to the woes when he broke into the line at 1:50 p.m. with more bad news: “There are no more hot dogs.”

Otherwise the picnickers seemed to be enjoying the pleasant weather and the opportunity to get reacquainted with fellow residents.

The first group to march past the microphone of parade announcer Todd Coyle was the Combined Veterans’ Honor Guard from Martinsburg, W.Va., followed by Ben Multhaupt, a D-Day veteran, who rode by in a World War II-era military Jeep.

Coyle spent the rest of the morning in pep-rally form urging patrons lining both sides of German Street to “give up a round of applause” to whichever unit was passing at the moment.

Mayor Jim Auxer, several Town Council members and Police Chief Dave Ransom marched in a group.

Jefferson County Commissioner Jane Tabb, a local farmer, drove by in a big John Deere tractor while Lyn Widmyer, her commission colleague, walked down the street.

There were no marching bands unless one counts the Speakeasy Boys, a local troupe strumming away in the back of a pickup truck. The Speakeasy Boys and the Gypsy Ramblers, another Shepherdstown bluegrass band, provided the music for the picnic.

Owners of a few older vehicles, including a 1934 Hudson Terraplane, 1940 Pirsch firetruck and ’62 Studebaker Hawk, were a parade highlight.

Steven White of Rockville, Md., recently bought the Hawk.
 
“This is my first parade,” he said. “I hope it doesn’t break down.”

Allen Bond III of Shepherdstown had no such fears with his 40-foot, 73-year-old ladder truck.

“I drive it in a dozen parades a year,” he said of the green behemoth with its 75-foot aerial ladder nested in the back.

Bond bought the truck in 2005 from the Old Dominion Historic Fire Society of Richmond, Va., for $3,800.

“Everything is functional on it,” he said.

Bond, while never a firefighter, said he has harbored a love of firetrucks “ever since I was a kid.”

Richard Brown, of 113 Fairmont St., had no connection with Thursday’s holiday festivities. Instead he was busying himself stooped down in front of the picket fence that surrounds his house applying its first coat of white paint in more than six years.

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