Ferndale Fest Crowds Celebrate Community Spirit

Neighbors/ Ferndale/ Linthicum

May 21, 1991|By Gary Gately | Gary Gately,Staff writer

The T-shirts said it best:

"Ferndale native -- 100 percent pure."

The shirts, sold from a table just downwind of the "Ashley's famous" homemade crab cakes stand, proved a hot seller Sunday. Such blatant boosterism could be excused, though, for it was a day to proudly proclaim your Ferndale heritage.

For the 14th year, the natives -- three generations of them, in more than a few cases -- came together to celebrate Ferndale.

This year's Ferndale Day drew some 10,000 people who converged on the little town built by the railroad tracks along Baltimore & Annapolis Boulevard.

On a breezy, sun-drenched afternoon, they staked out places -- some along the road, others in theshade of trees up the railroad tracks a bit -- to watch an old-fashioned parade.

After the last of the fire engines, horses, antique cars, school bands, scouts, junior beauty queens, soldiers and politicos passed, the throngs descended on the road that served as the parade route.

They devoured local delicacies like the crab cakes from Ashley's Restaurant & Lounge or Sen. Michael Wagner's legendary pit beef or the Ferndale Garden club's strawberry crepes and fresh-squeezedlemonade.

Kids rode ponies, giggled as they got their faces painted, tested their bike-balancing skills in a contest by the firehouse and stood in awe as firemen showed off the "jaws of life" that can pry accident victims from cars.

Local artists and crafts people soldsketches, needlepoint pillows, quilts, hand-made dolls and wood crafts. An auctioneer hawked a bushel of crabs with a case of beer and a day as an engineer on the old B&A Railroad.

"Ferndale Day might bebigger, but it's just like it's always been, just the way we like it," said George Sims, a 44-year-old retailer, native and Ferndale Day regular. "It's small-town, and it's proof we don't need any of those Nintendos or computers or modern-day gadgets to have a goodtime."

His wife and family, his nephew and -- if he could talk -- his littlegrandson, 10-month-old Shawn Sims, would agree.

So would Debbie Layton. She recalls her first Ferndale Day, six years ago. It was one of her first dates with the Ferndale native who would become her husband.

"I remember saying, 'Uh, you want to take me to Ferndale Day?Well, OK.' "

Layton, whose 21-month old daughter, Nicole, took inher second Ferndale Day this time, hasn't missed one since.

The celebration, sponsored by the Ferndale-Linthicum Area Community Council to benefit the Ferndale-Linthicum Senior Citizens Center, almost didn't happen this year, though.

Community leaders had considered canceling the event for lack of interest, after few responded to letters about Ferndale Day, parade chairman Wyatt Rogers said.

But whenword got out that the parade might be canceled, Rogers said, residents deluged leaders with pleas to keep Ferndale Day.

Nobody's talking about canceling Ferndale Day any longer.

And Rogers says he doubts light rail's arrival next year, county "revitalization" plans to turn the parade route into a landscaped bastion of sidewalk cafes, oranything else will ever threaten the community's beloved Ferndale Day.

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