`Phelpstival' will honor Towson's Olympian

September 03, 2004|By Kevin T. McVey | Kevin T. McVey,SUN STAFF

Towson will welcome Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps back to his hometown Sept. 11 with a "Phelpstival," Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. announced at a news conference on the old courthouse portico yesterday.

Smith said he hopes for a "tremendous family affair."

"This will be about family, and especially the family of Michael Phelps," he said.

"Because of his family, he was able to harness his athletic prowess," which, Smith said, "earned him six gold medals and made him an American ambassador of sorts to the rest of the world.

"His accomplishments, paralleled by his character and the way he handled himself, made America proud, and we want to recognize the ambassador role he played to the rest of the world."

The festival will begin at 9 a.m. Sept. 11 at Towson High School. There, at Cedar Avenue, an honorary street renaming will be held.

A parade will then start at York Road, continuing along Pennsylvania Avenue and ending at Courthouse Plaza, where Smith will present Phelps with a key to the county, a first for any county resident.

Although the festival will be held on the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Manhattan and outside Washington, Smith assured those present that 9/11 will not be overshadowed by the Phelps celebration and said a member of the clergy will speak about those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

The festival is sponsored by the Towson Business Association, the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Towson Committee.

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