Centennial Park offers concerts, scenery and fun on land or water


July 06, 1998|By Sally Voris | Sally Voris,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHERE IN Howard County can you play horseshoes, volleyball, tennis or softball, row, canoe, hike, picnic, fish, in-line skate, cycle, play and listen to live music?

On the tract that Clara Gouin, senior park planner for the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, describes as the "gem of the Howard County Park System" -- Centennial Park.

More than a million people visit the park each year.

On Wednesday evening, this reporter and her son went fishing close to the boat ramp on the 50-acre lake that is the park's centerpiece.

A 2.5-mile trail circles the lake, weaving through mowed grass, wildflowers, forest and forb.

Bicyclists, hikers, mothers with strollers, in-line skaters, walkers and talkers moved amiably along the trails.

The sounds of "Stars and Stripes Forever" floated faintly across the water as, between the boat ramp and the dam, owners encouraged dogs to fetch balls and sticks from the water.

No one caught any fish; everyone was relaxing as the Columbia Concert Band performed "Sunset Serenade."

Concerts, which feature a variety of musical styles, will be held every Wednesday at 7 p.m. through Aug. 12.

Giant Food is the sponsor. A $2 fee is requested for parking, but those who show a Giant register receipt dated within seven days of the concert pay $1.

A "Chef's Specialty" is available from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., or you can bring your own picnic.

For information, call 410-313-7275.

Few people may be aware the parkland was at one time home to two bachelor brothers, known to former state Sen. James Clark as "Alpheus and Ollie Harding."

Clark said that the Harding family "had been there forever, and had put together their farm out of five different properties."

The family worked hard, plowing gardens and hauling gravel for others in addition to tending their farm.

The brothers lived on the farm until they died. In fact, Alpheus died as he was walking home from the local watering hole, Club 108, now called The Crown Pub. Family members subsequently sold the farm, Clark said.

Howard County acquired the land for the park between 1967 and 1978 using, in part, Program Open Space funds from the state.

Centennial Park was dedicated on June 13, 1987.

LDR International, formerly Land Design/Research Inc., won a National Merit Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1989 for its design.

The firm also won an award from the Waterfront Center for "excellence on the waterfront."

The Department of Recreation and Parks made good use of that waterfront with a fishing tournament June 6.

More than 200 young people and 47 adults cast their lines.

Young participants received a T-shirt, food, and a chance to win prizes. Some young anglers were awarded trophies for largest fish caught.

Stephanie Confer won first place after she landed a 5-pound, 9-ounce catfish.

Jabari Rollins won second place for a 5-pound, 4-ounce bass. Ross Morgan placed third for his 3-pound, 6-ounce catfish.

Other trophy winners included Tom Cugle, Mitchell Cowger, Justin Wray, Cody Simpson, Ricky Alivera and Adam Eckwall.

Adult winners competed for prize money and trophies for the largest catch in five categories: bass, bluegill, crappies, catfish and trout.

Lyle Bundy won first place in the trout and crappie categories.

Jim Confer caught the largest bluegill, and Tully Fenner the largest bass. All of the lake's catfish eluded anglers.

Recreation and Parks is offering a fishing camp and an aquatic nature camp at Centennial Park.

Both are open to children ages 10 to 12. The camps will be held from 9: 15 a.m. to 12: 15 p.m. The cost for each weeklong camp is $60.

Space is available in the fishing camp scheduled for the week of July 27, and for aquatic nature camps to be held the weeks of July 20 and Aug. 10.

Recreation and Parks is planning another fishing tournament Sept. 19 at Centennial Lake.

For information, call 410-313-7275.

If you need to boost your skills before competing in the fall, you can attend a series of free fishing clinics this week , next week, and the weeks of July 20, 27 and Aug. 3 at Lost Lake in the Avalon Area of Patapsco Valley State Park, south of Interstate 195 off U.S. 1.

The clinics are sponsored by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as part of its "Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs" program.

The sessions run Mondays through Thursdays.

Sessions for 7- to 10-year-olds will be held from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sessions for children ages 11 to 13 are scheduled from noon to 3 p.m.

Parents are invited to attend the first 15 minutes of the orientation session to meet the instructors and hear an overview of the week's events.

Any parent who would like to volunteer to help during the week should speak with the instructor at the orientation.

Outstanding citizen

On June 13, Elkridge resident Nancy Kirchner was named "Outstanding Professional of the Year" by the Association of Retarded Citizens of Maryland.

Kirchner works as assistant director of the state's Developmental Disabilities Administration.

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