Celebrating the Fourth of July at Downs Park has become a family tradition for thousands of county residents.
In past years, Mom, Dad and the kiddies have carried stuffed coolers and armloads of lawn chairs and blankets to the daylong celebration. Those arriving at the bus pickup points at the opening hour were rewarded with prime space atthe Bayside amphitheater.
In the end, everybody had a good time and eventually inched up Mountain Road toward home.
With budget woes, this year's celebrationwas a big question mark. But with some innovative planning and a little cut here and there, July 4th at Downs Park will still offer free entertainment for the entire family.
On July 4, Downs will open at4 p.m. As usual, no parking will be allowed in or around the park orin the surrounding communities.
You can park your vehicle at the Chesapeake High School complex on Mountain Road and catch a free shuttle bus. Buses will provide transportation to and from the park all day.
For everyone's safety and enjoyment, please don't bring fireworks or sparklers, pets and alcoholic beverages into the park. No swimming is allowed.
Picnic lunches are welcomed, but if you do not bring enough for the hungry crowd,food and beverages will be for sale.
Because of the lean budget, no carnival rides will be operating this year. A face-painting booth will be set-up for the younger set.
And for American tin lovers, more than 50 vintage vehicles from the Bay Country region of the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America will be on display in the main parking area 4 p.m. until dusk.
Chances on alovely navy-and-white quilt made by the Downs Park Quilting Guild will be on sale all day. Tickets are $1 and the drawing will be 7:45 p.m. The quilt will be on display near the park's information center.
Music at the Bayside amphitheater will begin at 5 p.m. with the O.C. rock 'n' roll sounds of No U Turn.
At 6 p.m., kids of all ages are invited to wave the flag and parade through the amphitheatre in a patriotic celebration. Bingo the Clown, Captain Seaweed and Batman are scheduled to make special appearances. Flags will be distributed at5:45 p.m. at the Overlook flagpole. Young children must be accompanied by an adult. Patriotic dress is encouraged.
At 6:30 p.m., the Smith Sisters will entertain the crowds with new country music, to be followed at 7:30 p.m. by local acoustic performer Tommy Gordon.
Returning by popular demand is Annapolis' own Mama Jama. They heated uptheevening last year and will do so again from 8 to 9 p.m. and againat 10 p.m., after the fireworks.
Speaking of fireworks, the pyrotechnicians from Firework Productions will begin the 45-minute extravaganza at 9:15 p.m.
As in past years, the park will be closed July 5 for clean-up and maintenance.
In case of rain, the fireworks display only will take place July 6. Want more details? Call the park at222-6230.
* Ranger Dave DeVault of Downs Park has announced the winners of the Spring Photography Contest.
Evelyn M. Withington of Glen Burnie won an award in the Animals category for her picture of abutterfly.
Ronald Strauss of Crofton, a past winner, won two awards, Scenic and Best Overall. Ron's picture of waves on a stormy day at the park proved the best.
In the Plants category, William Huddy of Pasadena won for his photo of a dogwood in bloom.
Pasadena resident Chris Crawford's photo of fisherman along the park's bay shoreline won first place in the People category.
The four winning photoswill be on display in the information office during June and July.
Opening day for county schools is but a short two months away.September is always such a busy month -- and can become even more soif you or your student are having problems at school.
Although schools are closed, offices are open and summer is a great time to schedule appointments with guidance counselors.
Several elementary schools are offering mini-sessions and workshops to help students.
Carolyn Keenen, counselor at Fort Smallwood and Jacobsville elementaries, will lead three min-sessions that students can attend. "At Home Alone," "Choices -- How and Why to Make Them" and "Time Management for Youngsters" will be offered. Parents can call 437-5100 or 255-1394 toobtain exact dates and times.
Three schools in the Northeast Highfeeder system will be offering study skills workshops for students to get ready for the new school year.
Workshops are set for Aug. 8 at High Point, Riviera Beach and Sunset elementaries. Solley studentsmay attend the session at Sunset.
Incoming second- and third-graders can attend the workshop from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Fourth- and fifth-grade students can attend from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Interested parents should contact their students' schools.
Galilee Lutheran Church is offering an Evening Vacation Bible School from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. July 8-12 at the church, 4652 Mountain Road.
The school is open to ages 3 through adult.