A very important person has been missing from Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company for nearly 12 months.
Without a Miss Mount Airy Fire Prevention to wave at spectators, the local Fire Department's parade participation, near and far, just wasn't the same. Without a reigning fire prevention hostess, the fire company's annual open house was missing a key player. Without a smiling fire prevention ambassador, the company's visits to local schools lacked an important spokeswoman.
Most important, without the contest and a young woman to represent the fire company, a valuable connection to area youth was severed, said Karen Duffy.
Ms. Duffy, fire prevention committee co-chair, said the contest helps the fire company bridge the communication gap between older youth and young adults. When area children are in preschool and grade school, programs through the schools provide valuable fire safety lessons.
"By the time the students hit high school, we don't have a lot of contact," Ms. Duffy said. "Miss Fire Prevention can spread the word to the teen-age population that we can do things for them and they can do things for us."
Baby sitter classes, advanced fire prevention and home safety information, and a Junior Fire Company for youth age 14 and older are some of the programs available to teens, Ms. Duffy said. Teen-agers can help the fire company by being conscientious about safety, spreading the word about fire and injury prevention to others, and volunteering to work at fund-raisers such as the coming carnival.
"We can always use the help," she said.
Fire company members hope to fill the vacant position when they sponsor the 1995 Miss Mount Airy Fire Prevention Contest at 7 p.m. July 24, the first night of their annual carnival. They hope that publicity about the contest and the importance of a Miss Fire Prevention to the company will attract participants. Lack of interest canceled last year's contest.
Gene Mellin, fire prevention committee chairman, said the contest will begin with individual interviews of participants by a panel of judges in the Firemen's Activities Building. A list of possible interview questions will be made available to contestants in advance.
Each contestant will then go on stage about 8 p.m. to give a one-minute speech about some aspect of fire prevention.
"That is something they have to select and do themselves," Mr. Mellin said. "We'll provide them with reference materials."
Contestants are asked to wear "dressy casual" clothes, but no jeans, Ms. Duffy said. They will be judged by the skills a Miss Fire Prevention needs during her reign -- public speaking ability and knowledge of fire prevention.
Candidates must be unmarried, childless, and between the ages of 16 and 21. They must also live within the Mount Airy Fire Company's "first due response area," Mr. Mellin said.
The top three participants will take home rewards. A $100 savings bond and a bouquet of flowers await the contest winner, who also may keep her tiara and sash. The first runner-up will receive a $75 bond with flowers and the second runner-up will receive a $50 bond.
Miss Mount Airy Fire Prevention will earn community service hours toward graduation requirements while she represents the fire company.
"It's a great way for anybody that is interested in the fire service to get started," Ms. Duffy said. "It's a great way to get out, meet people and spread a good message."
Perfecting public speaking skills is another plus for serving as Miss Fire Prevention, Mr. Mellin said. "It looks good on her job and college applications."
Support and information are available to contestants. Interested young women are encouraged to call with questions. For more information, call Ms. Duffy at (301) 829-0529 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, or 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends.
Lisa Shipley of Winfield is ready, willing and able to share a hopper full of hoop hints at the 1995 South Carroll Girls Basketball Camp.
Girls entering grades four through nine are eligible to attend the five-day Winfield Recreation Council program, which will be held from 9 a.m to 12:30 p.m. Aug. 7-11 in the gymnasium at South Carroll High School.
The camp costs $40 per girl. Participants will be grouped according to basketball experience and will work on dribbling, offensive and defensive skills.
"We will have some three-on-three mini-tourneys," Miss Shipley said.
The week will end with an informal ceremony to recognize good participation and effort, and campers will get a T-shirt.
The camp is the joint effort of Miss Shipley and Doug Campbell, a Catonsville High School physical education teacher.
Miss Shipley, 21, is the daughter of Jane and Jack Whittington of Winfield. She recently graduated from Gettysburg College with a degree in psychology and elementary education and has been involved with Winfield's recreation programs as a participant, assistant and leader. This is the second year that she and Mr. Campbell have conducted the local basketball camp.