20,000 celebrate at Frederick parade

September 10, 1995|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Sun Staff Writer

FREDERICK -- Dame Barbara Fritchie stuck her white-capped head out of an attic window yesterday and defiantly waved the stars and stripes, culminating a festive and patriotic parade celebrating Frederick's 250th anniversary.

Organizers estimated that about 20,000 people lined 17 blocks of Frederick's two main streets to watch a two-hour parade that feted the city's rich and colorful history and showcased its many long-standing civic and social organizations, businesses, churches and other institutions.

"Fredericktonians love a parade," observed Tom Gardner, a retired hardware clerk who viewed the passing floats, bands and fire trucks from beneath a store canopy on Market Street.

The parade and the Barbara Fritchie re-enactment were among many activities this weekend marking the zenith of the city's year-long anniversary celebration. Festivities conclude today with a 2 p.m. dedication of the city's Carillon Bells, the largest such system in the state.

"It's been a fabulous weekend. The parade was a dream come true," said Beth Gura, the city's anniversary coordinator.

The parade itself included more than 3,000 participants and 160 marching and other units -- high school bands, clowns, politicians, school groups, antique cars and fire trucks. Helen Smith, a 101-year-old artist known for her paintings of Frederick's historic steeples, served as the parade's grand marshal.

Many floats, though, highlighted aspects of the city's history: Barbara Fritchie, Mayor Jacob Engelbarcht chronicling mid-19th century life in his diary, and the founding of churches and civic groups. Frontiersmen, colonials and Civil War re-enactors marched, too.

"It's been absolutely tremendous," said Mayor Jim Grimes, who was costumed in a 19th century tuxedo and who marked his 56th birthday yesterday. "We've had a tremendous turnout, and this whole event has been very positive. This is a very proud community."

At the end of the parade, hundreds of spectators crowded around Dame Fritchie's reconstructed, red brick cottage on West Patrick Street to witness the re-enactment of a purported incident poet John Greenleaf Whittier immortalized during the Civil War period. Supposedly, it happened 133 years ago today as Confederate troops marched out of Frederick toward South Mountain and Antietam.

"Shoot if you must this old gray head but spare your country's flag," exclaimed Harriet Arthur, a docent at the Barbara Fritchie House and Museum who portrayed the 95-year-old woman.

Many historians believe Whittier, who never set foot in Frederick, used a composite of flag-waving incidents and simply chose Fritchie as his heroine.

"I want to believe it's true," said Carrie Mangeroni, a retired secretary from Frederick who watched the re-enactment. "Whether you believe it or not, it's a good story. Everyone knows about it."

Julien Delphey, 77, remembers the city's 200th anniversary celebration and deemed yesterday's events more festive."People are now much more involved and much more interested in history," he said.


The Civil War Battle of the Monocacy -- part of greater Frederick's history from July 1864 -- will be re-enacted and filmed today before what is expected to be a large crowd in addition to those at the city's 250th birthday observance.

Uniformed Union and Confederate units, firing rifles and cannon and eventually burning a bridge, will battle off Mount Zion Road -- about two miles southwest of Frederick on U.S. 15/340. Gates open at 10 a.m. with the two-hour battle beginning about 1 p.m. Parking: $3 or three cans of food for the Salvation Army.

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