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Dancing to big-band music highlight of 'Everybody's Day' at Pen Mar Park

August 26, 2013|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Jim and Elisa Hamilton and their 3-year-old son Francisco drove from Baltimore to enjoy Everybody's Day Sunday at Pen Mar County Park near Cascade. They are posing for a family picture beside an antique Ford.
By Kevin G. Gilbert / Staff Photographer

CASCADE, Md. — A cool breeze came up from the deep valley below and the view of Waynesboro, Pa., from atop the mountain at Pen Mar Park was as breathtaking as ever.

Darwin Barkdoll of Chambersburg, Pa., stood at the edge of the park’s scenic overlook and was picking out parts of his hometown in the distance with a big pair of binoculars.

“This is a place I cherish,” said Barkdoll, who used to come to the park as a child to ride on a roller coaster and other attractions.

Barkdoll came to the park later in his life when his employer — Landis Tool Co. — used to host Fourth of July celebrations at the park.

He talked about other memories, like when the Western Maryland railroad trains used to chug their way around the mountain.

Barkdoll was among hundreds of people who came to the park Sunday afternoon for the annual Everybody’s Day, which is intended to offer something for everyone. Although attractions over the years have included mustache and beard contests and magic shows, one of the most popular and enduring events has been an afternoon of dancing to big-band music in a covered pavilion by the overlook.

On Sunday, the dance floor was full of couples, some showing off some rather gravity-defying moves.

Among those dancing was Brenda Binkley of Hagerstown and 98-year-old Steve Kovacs of Chambersburg. Binkley, 64, said she met Kovacs when he was 90 years old.

Binkley said she dances wherever she can and often comes to the park, which offers music throughout the summer.

“I’ve met wonderful people here. Wonderful. It’s like family,” Binkley said.

Everybody’s Day typically attracts thousands of people, and although some park workers said Sunday it was hard to estimate the attendance, there were people as far as the eye could see looking up from the dance pavilion.

Picnic tables spread across the hillside were covered with tablecloths and arrays of food as people enjoyed time with family and friends.

Donna and Gene Leatherman of Leitersburg were sitting on lawn chairs about halfway up the side of the hill watching the activity below. The couple estimated they had been coming there for about 65 years.

The couple started coming to the park when they were dating and remembered attractions like a carousel and a bowling alley.

“This was the place to go,” said Donna Leatherman, who said she still likes coming to the park to relax and watch people.

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