Town turning 250 with pride

Taneytown: The Carroll community has begun a week of events that celebrate its past and present and put its history on parade.

August 22, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Taneytown Mayor W. Robert "Bob" Flickinger fried hundreds of eggs at the Lions Club breakfast yesterday, welcomed officials to town and helped lead a parade along Baltimore Street. Sporting a baseball cap with the city's logo and a beard for the whisker-growing contest, he will bury a time capsule, play George Washington in a vignette and picnic, and pray with his constituents.

Flickinger is booked every day this week with celebrations marking his hometown's 250th birthday. Proceeds from that breakfast where the mayor cooked at least 30 dozen eggs - to order - will help pay for many of the events.

"Wouldn't you celebrate, if you were that old?" he said. "We have a lot of history here and a lot of good people in this community to keep things going."

Taneytown - pronounced "TAW-ny-town" - a city of 5,100 residents in northwestern Carroll County, launched its weeklong bash yesterday with a parade.

"This is a wonderful old town that has hung in there for 250 years," said Bonnie Merkel Summers, who credits the people for the city's staying power. "Everybody knows everybody here, and most of them are related in one way or another."

Intermittent rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of hundreds lining the city's main drag to applaud marchers, marvel at floats and greet neighbors. Navy and maroon banners bearing the image of the City Hall cupola and marking the 1754 founding of Taneytown hung from street poles. Many people wore "I love Taneytown" pins.

`Sense of community'

"Everybody is getting into this celebration of heritage," said state Sen. David R. Brinkley. "This sense of community is the way things used to be."

Jean Harman, who used to run a gas station with her husband, smiled at marchers who were calling, "Hi, Jean!"

"I have been around 77 years and I know a lot of people," said Harman, seated in a lawn chair with her umbrella. "I like to say I washed windshields with them."

Residents sat on their front porches, under trees or umbrellas, and applauded throughout the 90-minute parade. Children waved miniature flags, balloons and Frisbees and watched for friends.

"My brother is in the parade because he plays football in Taneytown," said Jessica Zimmerman, 12, of New Windsor.

Jeremy Williams, 8, who came with his family from Westminster, said, "I want to celebrate Taneytown's birthday, and I like parades."

Daniel Sheppard, 9, wondered if his hometown "should have a party like this every year."

Past on parade

Led by a color guard from the local American Legion post, the parade featured floats, marching bands, antique tractors, cars and firetrucks, a mule-drawn covered wagon and horses bearing a Victorian wedding party.

On a 48-foot-long tractor-trailer, Grace United Church of Christ portrayed three scenes from its history. On another float, patrons of the Taneytown Senior Center showed paintings, crafts and exercise equipment. A Cub Scout troop marched, tossed out candy and lobbied for more members.

"It is almost as good as Halloween," said Collin Dupel, 10, who accumulated a sackful of treats.

Taneytown predates the presidency of George Washington, who reportedly visited the city and stayed at the Adam Goode Inn. The boyhood home of Francis Scott Key, who penned the national anthem, is only a few miles from the city

"This town has a lot of vitality," said Del. Donald B. Elliott, who represents Carroll and Frederick counties in the legislature. "It has had leaders in the past who gave it a real impetus. And, the community should be very proud of the leadership of today."

Making memories

Barrie Tilghman, mayor of Salisbury and president of the Maryland Municipal League, said the birthday celebration would create great memories for area youth.

"Taneytown epitomizes what is great about Maryland," she said. "It is surrounded by beautiful countryside and it has great people and a great main street."

Faye Bowman, a lifelong Taneytown resident, said, "This parade was worth sitting in the rain to see. I am planning on going to a lot of the other stuff, too."

A jam-packed week

Other activities include an old-fashioned community picnic at 2 p.m. today in Memorial Park, followed by a 4 p.m. ecumenical prayer service. The city has organized a talent show, concerts, walking tours and an ice cream social to take place throughout the week.

Fireworks will top off the celebration shortly after the whisker contest winner is named Saturday evening. About 60 men registered their beards in March and have been cultivating them ever since.

Councilman James McCarron said he thought he had the edge, until he spied several "Brothers of the Brush" with longer beards on a parade float.

"I think there are some sleepers in the group," he said.

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