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Clear your calendar for these holiday traditions

What: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
       Cool Factor: Feeling apprehensive about dragging your entire family out to a holiday theatre performance? Take our advice and bring them all to see the seasonal antics of the Herdman family in this production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, based on the book by Barbara Robinson. These delinquent children somehow end up center stage at the local church Christmas pageant and teach their community a little something about the magic of the holiday. Even better for your family, it’s free.
       See It: Dec. 6-9, 7pm, Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, Severna Park, free: 410-647-2550.
 
What: Colonial Players’ A Christmas Carol
      Cool Factor: The spirit of Christmas is the wonder in a child’s eyes when Scrooge talks to her waiting in line with parents for a ticket to Colonial Players’ Annapolis holiday tradition, A Christmas Carol. It’s another child’s giddy excitement when Ebenezer pulls him from the audience to dance as he joyfully transforms from cold-hearted humbug to warm, genial benefactor.
         In 1981, local actor/director Rick Wade tinkered with a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic. When Colonial Players offered to stage it, according to Wade, “More than a few people thought it would quietly fizzle out as a one-year experiment. Annapolitans, bless ’em, took the play to their hearts.”
      Speaking of tradition, Wade’s daughter Sarah directs this year’s production, after growing up with the show in several roles over the years. She leads a cast of more than 20: Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, Fezziwig, the townsfolk, the ghosts.
      The gifts don’t stop with the final performance. A large portion of the proceeds goes to local charities so the spirit of the season can reach beyond December.
       See It: Dec. 6-16; tickets are sold out, but standby tickets are offered first-come-first-served 30 minutes prior to each show: www.thecolonialplayers.org.
 
What: Muddy Creek Gifts From the Arts
        Cool Factor: See the creative wonders artists in Southern Anne Arundel County — including art teachers and their elementary school students — have imagined and made. Then use their inspiration to create your own art in the Studio Intrepid. The holiday show and sale features original paintings, photography, jewelry, pottery, glass, woodwork, wearables and raffles for arty baskets and student masterpieces.
       See It: F 11am-6pm, Sa 10am-6pm, Su 11am-5pm thru Dec. 9, 161 Mitchells Chance, South River Colony, Edgewater, free: www.muddycreekartistsguild.org.
 
What: Living Christmas Tree
       Cool Factor: For more than 30 years, Riverdale Baptist Church has celebrated the season with a 30-foot-tall living Christmas tree decorated with thousands of synchronized lights plus 70-some human ornaments: choir, orchestra and a heart-warming play, all rising 10 levels on a wooden platform to spread the good news. Come early to see the live nativity. 
       See It: Dec. 8 & 9: Sa 1:30pm & 6:30pm, Su 1:30pm, Riverdale Baptist Church, Upper Marlboro, $12 w/discounts, rsvp: www.livingtreetickets.com.
 
 
What: Lighted Boat Parades
       Cool Factor: Chesapeake Country loves showing off its boats, and decorating them for the holidays is a good excuse to get back on the water, even on a chilly night. See boats of all sizes and shapes in Eastport, Deale and Solomons. The Eastport parade has been nominated for the third time as one of the USA Today 10 Best Readers Choice Holiday Parades in America.
       See It: Saturday, December 8, Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade: Lighting the Annapolis harbor for 36 years, this glittering parade features nearly 40 illuminated boats in two fleets: one circles in front of Eastport, City Dock and the Naval Academy seawall; the other cruises the length of Spa Creek. Arrive early for a spot along the Annapolis waterfront. 6-8pm, from Eastport Yacht Club to Naval Academy seawall: www.eyclightsparade.org.
        Saturday, December 8, Solomons Boat Parade: This lighted boat parade, part of the weekend’s Christmas Walk activities, starts at 6:15pm, visible from Back Creek to the Patuxent River walk: www.solomonsmaryland.com.
       Wednesday, December 19, Deale Parade of Lights: Decorated boats cruise Rockhold Creek. 6-10pm, staging at Hidden Harbor Marina, Happy Harbor and Shipwright Harbor ­Marina, rsvp to enter boats: 410-867-3129.
 
What: Shells & Bells
       Cool Factor: Sleigh bells and oyster shells: Christmas has come to Annapolis.
      Celebrate the season at Shells and Bells a party with front-row seats to the Eastport Yacht Club’s Parade of Lights. You’ll watch the twinkling procession from the comfort of a heated tent on the top tier of the Annapolis Charles Carroll House.
      “There’s so much to look forward to,” said Kaitlin Davis from Shells and Bells. “But the best part is, it’s for a great cause.” 
       Proceeds from ticket sales, live auction and raffle benefit the Chesapeake BaySavers, an Annapolis environmental nonprofit working toward a healthier Chesapeake Bay.
      The Shells and Bells reception begins with cocktail hour 5-6pm for donors and VIPs. After that, the doors open to all ticket holders.
       All drinks and food are included in the price of your ticket. 
      See It: Dec. 8, 6-10pm, Charles Carroll House & Gardens, Annapolis, $125, rsvp: www.shellsandbells.org.
 
What: Family Train & Toy Show
      Cool Factor: See networks of trains and tracks, old and new sets and accessories in standard O and S gauges, repair and replacement parts and test tracks, all laid out by The National Capital Division Toy Train Operating Society.
      See It: Dec. 9, 9am-3pm, Earleigh Heights VFD, Severna Park, $5 w/discounts: 301-621-9728.
 
What: Holiday Cheer 2018
       Cool Factor: Kids and teens steal the show with musical numbers and special guests in The Talent Machine’s annual holiday production, featuring special guests Santa, elves, Rudolph and Frosty.
      “After 25 years, we are excited to be showcasing a brand new set,” says The Talent Machine’s Kim O’Brien.
      “Expect something close to a Broadway-level show,” says Tami Howie, lawyer by day and parent of three Talent Machine performers. “The older kids mentor the younger ones and take them from being timid to becoming a huge personality.”
       See It: Dec. 14-16 & Dec. 20-23: F 7:30pm, Sa 2pm & 7:30pm, Su 2pm & 6:30pm, Key Auditorium, St. John’s College, Annapolis, $15 w/discounts, rsvp: www.talentmachine.com.
 
What: Santa Speedo Run 
       Cool Factor: Baby, it’s cold outside, and Chesapeake Country is trading coats for Speedos.
      The 12th annual Santa Speedo Run is a chilly Main Street tradition to spread holiday cheer to local children in need. Since 2006, hundreds of Santas in speedos have donated more than 5,000 toys and books to make kids smile during the holidays.
      Along with your unwrapped toys, bring your sneakers, swimsuit, a bag to put your clothes in while running, a copy of your registration email and other Santa Claus gear.
      Doors open at 10am at O’Briens on Main Street. Run or watch from the sidelines. After the mile run, the after party begins at O’Briens. Enjoy live music, crazy costumes, and maybe even the fellow in red himself …
      Pro tip: wear your Speedo under your street clothes for a quick strip down when it’s time to run. Register early to be guaranteed a spot.
      See It: Saturday, December 15, toy donation box sets up at 10am, check-in 10-11am, race 12:15pm, Annapolis, rsvp: www.santaspeedorunannapolis.com.
 
 
What: Christmas Cantata at Grace Brethren
      Cool Factor: Looking to rekindle your feelings of hope this holiday season? Find it at this musical celebration that combines choir, orchestra, soloists, praise band and video to create a musical journey of the miracle of Christmas.
      “We chose this upbeat, contemporary musical to lift our spirits as we consider the wonders of the Christmas season and the joy that fills our hearts as we reflect on God’s provision for us,” says John Bury, worship director. “During the 10:45am service we will also offer a special time for our children grades 1-4, as they also seek to experience the joy of this special season.”
      See It: Dec. 16, 8:15am & 10:45am, Grace Brethren Church, Owings, free: www.calvertgrace.org.
 
What: Annapolis Arts Alliance Holiday Shop
      Cool Factor: Visit a pop-up shop in downtown Annapolis, where 20 artists of the Annapolis Arts Alliance bring their wares to you for your holiday browsing (and buying). Jewelry and accessories, ceramics, herbalistics, paintings, homeware, wearables.
      See It: Tu, W, F noon-7pm (till midnight during Midnight Madness events), Sa 10am-7pm, Su noon-7pm, thru Dec. 23, 232 Main St., Annapolis: www.annapolis-arts-alliance.com.
 
What: Lights on the Bay
      Cool Factor: An annual Chesapeake favorite, Lights on the Bay is now under the helm of the Anne Arundel County SPCA. “This event is a tradition for generations of families. Children who once went with their grandparents, now go with their own kids,” says Anne Arundel County SPCA president Kelly Brown. See Sandy Point State Park transformed into a drive-thru holiday experience. New displays are added every year, and many marriage proposals happen here. Check the website for special discount nights, such as Military and First Responder Night, Ugly Sweater Night and more.
      See It: Nightly 5-10pm rain or shine, thru Jan. 1: Sandy Point State Park, $15/car, $30/van or mini-bus, $50/bus (check online for various discounts): www.lightsonthebay.org.
 
 
–Kathy Knotts, Shelby Conrad, Krista Pfunder Boughey and Jim Reiter
The Anne Arundel Food Bank’s new face looks to get the ­non-profit new space
      No one has ever become poor by giving.
–Anne Frank
 
        Susan Thomas is breaking in some new shoes, walking a path blazed by Food Bank founder Bruce Michalec. 
       Thirteen years ago, Thomas volunteered at the Anne Arundel County Food Bank. Two months into her new position, Michalec ran into health problems. He needed help.
      Eager to give back to the community, Thomas stepped up to learn the ropes from the creator himself. 
      Thomas, though, is no stranger to charitable work.
      She started as a teenager, volunteering as a candy striper at North Arundel Hospital. She also volunteered with Happy Helpers for the Homeless around the holidays. 
      She took notice of the Food Bank and volunteered to answer the phones. One month later, she was offered a job.
       “At the time, the staff consisted of four employees: a driver, bookkeeper, administrative assistant and executive director,” Thomas reminisces. “It was a very close group, and I really liked being part of a team that made a difference in someone’s life.”
       Thomas’s involvement steadily grew, as she added grant writing and bookkeeping to her responsibilities.
      “This is a unique job,” Thomas says. “I knew the harder I worked, the more people we would be able to assist and the more services we would be able to offer.”
       When Michalec retired in January after 30 years of service, he passed the baton to Thomas.
       Her first few months were fraught with troubles. For 14 years, the Anne Arundel County Food Bank worked out of the old Crownsville Hospital kitchen. The sprawling building had plenty of storage and massive freezers to keep perishable food — perfect for a growing pantry. However, their tenancy was uncertain. Then, the roof caved in.
      “We’ve had volunteers come out to patch the roof from time to time,” Thomas says. “But these buildings are very old. We don’t want to spend $100,000 for a new roof.”
       Thomas now has another reason to hold off on the roof repairs: The hospital grounds are for sale. 
      The Chesapeake Bayhawks have their sights set on that property. The Annapolis-based, semi-professional men’s lacrosse team is making moves to turn the grounds into a new stadium with parking and practice fields. Thomas says the Bayhawks are still willing to grandfather the Food Bank into its design plans. But that will take too long.
      “There’s no reason to wait,” Thomas says. “Our goal is to remain on the hospital grounds — but build a whole new space.” 
      They’ll need the room. Last year, the Food Bank handed out more than 260,000 pounds of food. 
      To get the building they need, Thomas is working with the state for a mix of grants and capital bonds. In combination with fundraising, they’ll need government help.
      Thomas hopes that the state will give a 100-year lease on the Crownsville hospital property. She’ll need a senator and delegate to back the plan; who depends on the November elections. Once she’s got backing, she’ll need to meet with Gov. Larry Hogan.
       Of the old building, Stuart Cohen, three-year volunteer truck driver for the Food Bank, says, “we are definitely lucky to have it. But it’s a huge undertaking to maintain. It’s not built for constant truck traffic, either.” 
      Christine Pokorny, a long-time volunteer at the Food Bank, looks forward to keeping up with “growing need in Anne Arundel County. A new space will make us much more effective,” she says.
       Part of growing with the times, Pokorny says, is Thomas herself. “I was really happy when Susan took over,” the volunteer says. “She has a terrific vision for the future, and she wants to try to reach new people in new ways.”
       With a brand new building, Thomas and her team would finally be able to focus on their programs and community — rather than struggling to keep a roof over their heads. 
 
A Remarkable Time
      “This is a really remarkable time,” says Anne Arundel Food Bank Chairman J.J. Fegan. 
       In the nine years Fegan, a local realtor, has led the board, he’s seen demand surge through the Food Bank’s sliding doors.
       “We live in one of the richest counties in one of the wealthiest states in America,” Fegan says. “Too many kids are going to school hungry, and I want to help give back.”
      Michalec felt the same. 
      A champion of charity, Michalec spent more than 30 years building what is now the Anne Arundel County Food Bank and a community around it. 
       The operation began inside a church with Michalec distributing a small federal surplus of food to families in need. Over time, he expanded the Food Bank into a countywide program that gives away more than $1.25 million in food annually. 
       As well as food, people needed resources. Ever responsive, Michalec rose to the need. 
      “Every time I gave away a bed or a wheelchair,” Michalec told Bay Weekly in 2014, “it was like giving people food because they would have been using food money to buy it otherwise.”
      The expanded Anne Arundel County Food and Resource Bank remains the only free place to go for food and other resources like appliances, furniture, medical equipment, nutritional supplements, personal hygiene products and even vehicles.
        Expansion has meant more programs. So far this year, Thomas has given out 150 bicycles to underprivileged kids. 
       Thomas’ team has broadened its Backpack Buddies program. They used to help almost 1,500 students by sending home backpacks full of food for the weekend. Now they assist more than 5,000 kids. 
       Individual donations, mostly through food drives, account for about 20 percent of the quarter-million pounds of food distributed by the bank to individuals, families and food pantries throughout the county. “The remainder,” Thomas says, “we receive through partnerships with local stores and Feeding America vendors.”
       With greater need and the prospect for a new space, more volunteers will be needed. The Food Bank already gets some help from correctional center work programs. Thomas has three to five inmates who help with daily packing and moving. She gets helpers from the Anne Arundel County Volunteer Center and United Way of Central Maryland. But with growing need comes greater responsibility. 
      More volunteers are needed right now, Thomas says, because the Food Bank is “headed into our busy season.” The back-to-school rush begins this hectic period, which grows into Thanksgiving food drives, then holiday gift donations.
      “We’re growing and we’re adapting. We’ve got this new power at our disposal, and we can use it to give more to our community than ever before,” Thomas says of the future.
      Drop off donations Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm at the Food Bank. For large donations or to become a volunteer, call the office: 410-923-4255, 120 Marbury Dr., Crownsville, www.aafoodbank.org.

Nationally certified red-carded firefighters go wherever it burns hottest

       Montana. Colorado. Texas. California. In all those hotbox states and more, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Services are sweating to control fires that have already burned more than five million acres of land and wrecked thousands of homes and businesses.
        Nationwide, says Monte Mitchell, Forest Service state fire supervisor, we’re part of a “dynamic system where when one geographic area has shortages, other states and federal units can provide those resources to fill in the gaps.”
       One hundred and twenty Maryland Forest Service firefighters and other volunteers train to fight those ferocious opponents. These “red-carded personnel are nationally certified to perform on an incident,” Mitchell says. “Forty-hour courses give them their basic firefighter and basic wildland and fire weather training and tactics.” 
      Topping that is an eight-hour physical field day.
      “They go out and construct fire lines with hand tools, they’ll use pumps, they’ll set up hose lays, they’ll be introduced to all the different tools that you use in wildland firefighting,” Mitchell says. 
     Through all this, their most important tools are their bodies.
     “There is a physical assessment that you have to meet, and that’s more of an exam,” says Justin Arseneault, project forester with the forest service. “Every year before firefighters get sent out, we take a work capacity test to make sure that our physical fitness is sufficient to handle the types of duties that we might be called to do.”
      Part of the test is walking three miles within 45 minutes while carrying 45 pounds.
      In Maryland, each crew of 20 people is divided into three squads under a crew boss. Each squad has its boss, three fellers who operate chainsaws and the rest firefighters, Mitchell explains. 
      Once in action, volunteers must be ready for whatever is to come in the 14 to 16 days of assignment.
     “Initial attack is responding to new wildfires as they occur and for the first 24-hour operational period taking the necessary actions to contain and suppress the wildfire,” Mitchell says. “All of the engine and dozer crews Maryland has mobilized are experienced firefighters. But newly trained firefighters can assist with initial attack operations under the supervision of experienced firefighters.”
      Once a fire is fought down, “we’ll make sure that portions controlled but still smoldering are fully extinguished so that they don’t accidentally escape containment,” Arseneault says.
      Maryland volunteers also might work on smaller active fires, “to cut fire lines, brushing out a path where there’s no fuel for the fire to run into so it will extinguish itself.”
     In July Arseneault was sent to Montana, California and Colorado. This month he heads to Texas to help with more fires.
      “It’s a dangerous environment, and we take every precaution that we can to mitigate the hazards that are there,” Arseneault says.
      “There are a lot of fires, like the fires in California, where homes are being threatened, and it can be very humbling to help. Being exposed to those people that are just so grateful that you’re there really makes you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile.”

Way Downstream …

Way Downstream comes from Ocean City, where the federal court case over the right of women to go topless may be bare-ly beginning. 

Let us first unveil some facts: Last summer, Ocean City approved an ordinance forbidding women to cast aside their swimsuit tops. 

In January, five women — among them Megan Bryant, of Lothian —- filed lawsuit in a Maryland U.S. District Court challenging the ordinance as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. 

“This lawsuit is about confirming the legal right of women to be bare-chested in public in the same places men are permitted to be bare-chested in public for purposes other than breast-feeding,” the complaint reads. 

The suit observes that it’s normal for men to go shirtless, an “act associated with power, strength and freedom.” 

In the pokey ways of federal civil suits, it was Ocean City’s duty to respond six months later. 

On July 27, the town filed a defense asserting that the women’s Equal Protection Clause argument is faulty because that provision doesn’t say that things that are different should be treated the same. 

The filing refers to the “indisputable difference between the sexes” and the town’s interest to protect public sensibilities, asserting that bare breasts in public “may not be offensive to everyone” but remain “unpalatable” to society. 

The naked truth is that no decision is expected for some time, perhaps not until chill winds have people so bundled up that there’s no way to discern the difference between women and men. 

         On July 26, the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River opened its gates due to flooding and high river flows. By July 29-30, tree limbs, sea grass and trash had reached Spa Creek by way of the Severn River and piled up on the waters of Annapolis Harbor. 

The City of Annapolis’s harbormasters worked hour after hour to clean up the disaster. Now the city is asking volunteers to help haul the mess out.  

“The debris took up almost the whole harbor this morning,” Annapolitan Joe LaScola told Bay Weekly. “But these guys are getting it done. 

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this in 40 years,” said LaScola, a daily visitor to City Dock. 

Team Rotary RAAMs Polio raced across America with local support

The race to end polio has stretched farther than Race Across ­America’s 3,000 miles, all around the world. It has lasted longer, 39 years instead of a week. But this year’s race brings the killer closer to eradication. In its third year racing, Team Rotary Race Across America’s Polio raised an all-time high of $1 million to destroy the dread disease in its last strongholds, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Team Rotary RAAMs Polio reached new personal bests in both time and sponsorship. As well as raising more money for polio vaccinations, the four international RAAM racers reached Annapolis less than seven days after setting out from California.

Two racers from Austria, Ruth Brandstaetter and Markus Mayr, and one racer from Germany, Kurt Matzler, joined Tulsa’s Bob McKenzie in the United States for the race. McKenzie has ridden in Race Across America with Rotary for three years running. “I tell the team every year in Oceanside that we’ve already won because we have provided immunization for the kids against polio,” McKenzie says.

Rotary, an international organization, has been focused on eradicating polio since 1979, thanks to John L. Sever. In 1979, the year when the final case of polio was diagnosed in the United States, Sever was both a Rotarian and head of the National Institutes of Health’s infectious diseases branch. Awed by the conquest over smallpox, Rotary International president Clem Renouf challenged Sever to find Rotary an equal task. Sever suggested polio as the Rotary target.

The challenge succeeded. Incidences of polio around the world have decreased by 99.9 percent. As the vice chair of the Rotary International PolioPlus Committee, Sever is after the last of the germ. Low vaccination rates and unexpected occurrences still keep the disease alive. Ukraine, for example, was declared polio-free in 2002 — until two cases were reported there three years ago. Only 50 percent of that nation’s children had been vaccinated against polio. The disease won’t stay down if people are not vaccinated against it.

Local Rotary clubs have supported the campaign since its beginning. For this year’s Race Across America, the Rotary clubs of Parole, Annapolis and North Shore contributed, raising $4,000.

“The club tries to contribute $2,500 to the PolioPlus campaign each year,” said Bob Smith, president of the Parole Rotary Club. This year, the contribution went higher, thanks to the additional efforts of the Annapolis and North Shore Rotary clubs.

It cost $60,000 in equipment and maintenance for Team Rotary RAAMs Polio to compete. In their arduous race, they were able to raise enough money to deliver more than 1.6 million polio vaccines.

“It’s pretty spectacular when you think about it,” Smith says.

Join a July 4th Parade

Cape St. Claire Celebration

10am from the Fire Department to the Main Beach for fun from 11am-2pm: tug-of war, sand-castle building contest, water-balloon toss, spoon and egg races, watermelon-eating contest and the Cape’s BBQ ribs and patriotic dessert contest: 410-757-1223; www.cscia.org/cape-st-claire/cape-st-claires-annual-july-4th-celebration

 

Severna Park Parade

10am from St. Martin’s in-the-Field Church, to Severna Park High School, to Evergreen Road to B&A Blvd to Cypress Creek Park: 410-647-3900.

 

Shady Side Parade

10am from Cedarhurst to the Shady Side Community Center on Snug Harbor Road. Roads close to traffic at 9:45am. Eddy Boarman: 443-370-8720.

 

Galesville Parade 

1pm down Main Street, which closes to traffic around 12:45pm. Parking $5/car on the athletic field at Anchors Way and Main St.: [email protected]; 703-328-6669.

 

Annapolis Parade

6:30pm down West Street from Amos Garrett Blvd., around Church Circle, down Main Street, then on Randall Street to Market House: www.annapolis.gov.

Your guide to fireworks, parades and celebrations

Friday June 29

Historic St. Mary’s Fireworks: Pyrotechnics follow Chesapeake Orchestra’s birthday concert in honor of Leonard Bernstein, with music of Sousa, Tchaikovsky and more. Bring lawn seating and a picnic or buy from food trucks. Arrive early at this thronged summer favorite. 7pm, Townhouse Green, St. Mary’s College, St. Mary’s City: www.chesapeakeorchestra.org.

 

Saturday, June 30

Chesapeake Beach Fireworks go up from two barges anchored beyond the town jetties, visible from the water and from land along the Bayfront from as far south as Willow Beach to north of North Beach. Watch the 25-minute spectacular from North Beach Boardwalk; at Rod ‘N’ Reel, where Split 2nd performs 5-9pm; on water onboard the Miss Lizzy (8pm, Chesapeake Beach Resort, $35, rsvp: www.cbresortspa.ticketleap.com); or take in the view from Chesapeake Beach Water Park (www.chesapeakebeachwaterpark.com). Fireworks 9pm, Chesapeake Beach: www.chesapeake-beach.md.us.

St. Michael’s Fireworks: The Shades of Blue Orchestra plays at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (7-10pm) for Big Band Night and St. Michaels’ fireworks. The orchestra performs at the historic Tolchester Beach Bandstand with dancing under the tent, and fireworks beginning at dusk over the Miles River (rain date July 1). Bring chairs, picnic blankets, food and drinks, but leave non-service dogs at home. Food, ice cream and non-alcoholic beverages sold; sponsored by Eastern Shore Tents & Events: www.cbmm.org/bigband.

 

Tuesday July 3

Sherwood Forest Fireworks: See this private community show from the Severn River from your boat. Or book on the Harbor Queen, with light snacks and cash bar. 7:30-10:30pm from Annapolis City Docks, $50 w/discounts, rsvp: www.watermarkjourney.com.

Herrington Harbour Fireworks: Fireworks set off from a barge illuminate Herring Bay. Marina grounds are reserved for members. But the view is great from boats, private docks, lawns or beaches. About 9:15pm, Herrington Harbour South, Rose Haven: www.herringtonharbour.com.

 

Wednesday, July 4

Baysox Fireworks: With an extended finale follow the Bowie Baysox baseball game against the Harrisburg Senators; rsvp for barbecue picnic buffet ($40 w/discounts). Picnic 5:30pm, game 6:35pm, Prince George’s Stadium, game tickets $7-$17, rsvp: www.baysox.com.

Annapolis Fireworks rise from a barge anchored in Spa Creek, illuminating Annapolis Harbor. Spa Creek Bridge closes to traffic at 6pm and local garages may fill up early; $1 shuttles run from Navy-Marine Corps Stadium to Lawyers Mall 5pm-midnight. Town and water views including from the Harbor Queen (7:30-10:30pm, Annapolis City Dock, $55 w/discounts, rsvp: www.watermarkjourney.com) or Schooner Woodwind (6:30-10pm, Annapolis Waterfront Hotel dock, $89 w/discounts, rsvp: www.schoonerwoodwind.com ): 9pm over the Severn River: 410-293-2291. 

Solomons Fireworks shoot from a barge anchored in the Patuxent River, giving the entire island — plus boaters — front row seats. Arrive early for the boat parade (noon); stay to stroll the Riverwalk and see the town. Rsvp by June 30 to watch aboard the Wm. B. Tennison on a Calvert Marine Museum cruise (8pm,  $35: 410-326-2042, x41). 9pm, Solomons: 443-324-8235.

Greater Baltimore’s Fourth of July fireworks illuminate the Inner Harbor, where the fun starts with the Commodores U.S. Navy Jazz Ensemble playing at the amphitheater (7pm). Come early for a heightened view on land or water, watch from the Top of the World observation floor, World Trade Center ($50 w/discounts, rsvp: 410-837-8439) or from a Watermark yacht (8-11pm, $59 w/discounts, rsvp: www.watermarkjourney.com) or on the Spirit of Baltimore (7-10:30pm, Inner Harbor, $115-$200, rsvp: www.spiritcruises.com). Fireworks begin 9:30pm over Inner Harbor, Baltimore: www.promotionandarts.org.

Washington, D.C. Fireworks: Celebrate America with high drama, music and special effects as the United States Army Presidential Salute Battery blasts cannons as fireworks burst over the capital. Tens of thousands of celebrants gather early on the National Mall for the National Symphony Orchestra’s annual concert (8pm). The nation’s capital begins the day at 11:45am with the Independence Day parade down Constitution Ave. and 7th St., traveling toward the Lincoln Memorial. Prime views include the Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial and the Ellipse: 9:09pm on the National Mall: www.nps.gov/foju. 

 

Saturday, July 7

Laurel Fireworks: Arrive early for parade (11am), then visit food and craft vendors, a classic car show, hot-dog eating contest and field events; Oracle plays music. Then settle in for fireworks set to music shot from the far side of Laurel Lakes. 9:15pm at Granville Gude Park (Laurel Lakes), 8300 Mulberry St., Laurel: www.laurel4th.org.

American Legion Post 206 historian seeks and shares the stories of those who served

      You would sit down cautiously with Fred Bumgarner at a poker table (usage of which can neither be denied nor confirmed) at the Stallings-Williams American Legion Post 206 in Chesapeake Beach. His gaze does not betray his thoughts. But the tight-handed former naval cryptologist is flush with heart when it comes to remembering our past and present veterans — even the ones whose only legacy is their discharge papers.
       “I was going through old files,” Bumgarner says, “and asking fellas, Who was this guy? What was his story? Sometimes I could find out something, and sometimes I couldn’t. But it always hit me hard that we didn’t find out before they were gone from us.”
      Bumgarner, 70, has been an American Legion member for 44 years. Since coming to Calvert County in 1980, he’s held several positions at Post 206, with membership in the 800s. Since becoming its historian two years ago, Bumgarner contributes Untold Stories to the Post’s quarterly newsletter: paragraph-sized biographical snippets gleaned from DD-214 discharge papers and membership cards. They are informative, anonymous, way too short, somewhat saddening, yet an inspirational source for reflection of the sacrifices made by the men and women of our military forces.
      I was a WWII Army veteran serving in the Pacific …
      I was a Korean War veteran flying missions in the Air Force …
      I was a Marine veteran of Vietnam from 1963 …
      “It means a lot more than it says,” Bumgarner reminds us. “It’s not a lot of info, but it’s something that we can document for these men and women who served their country.”
      Every once in a while, Bumgarner gets the whole story. He feels especially grateful to interview a veteran whose stories wouldn’t otherwise have a home.
       “I meet a lot of great people with some absolutely astonishing real-life stories, and I’m compelled to get them written down,” the biographer says.
      Bumgarner sees veterans as a whole no matter where they are from, no matter who they may be. His story collection is broad, inclusive and intriguing. Here are Memorial Day snippets of stories Bumgarner has written from interviews with three local veterans.
 
J Rosalie Hanley-Safreed J
Women’s Army Corps
     Rosalie was born on Armistice Day, November 11, 1920, just two years after the end of World War I, a conflict in which her father, Daniel J. Hanley, served. She and her three brothers were raised in Benwood, West Virginia, along the Ohio River in coal and steel country near Wheeling. 
      Rosalie failed her initial physical to join the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, but she was eventually accepted and became one of the first of 150,000 women who would serve in the WAACs renamed the Women’s Army Corps in July, 1943.
      She was the WAC editor of newsletters at both the Fort Des Moines and Mitchel Field, on Long Island.
      As the wounded arrived on stretchers, she and other WACs used their time off to help the Army nurses tend their patients. The wounded often attracted high-level VIPs, including movie stars and politicians. Rosalie was thrilled to meet Gary Cooper and Bob Hope. She also got to meet First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. 
      In July 1944, while stationed at Mitchel Field, Rosalie received word that her brother Duke was killed in action at St. Lo, France, in the Normandy invasion. In 2011, Rosalie traveled to Normandy, visited the areas where Duke had served and was given a medal and award by the French government in honor of her brother for his ultimate sacrifice and the liberation of France from the Germans.
      At 96, Rosalie is still going strong.
      When you think of the changes our society has been through in her lifetime, it really makes you stop and take notice. Women are now an accepted and valued component of all volunteer forces, and with some exceptions, they serve on an equal footing with their male counterparts.
–Fred Bumgarner
 
J Walter Dubicki J
Polish Refugee, British Army, United States Navy
       Walter was born in Rudinia, Poland, on February 8, 1935. In 1943, during World War II, the German Army relocated his family to various slave labor camps in Nazi Germany, splitting them up. He remembers they were forced to burn down their own farm before leaving. 
      They were loaded onto cattle cars and sent to camps at Dortmund and later Siegen, both northwest of Frankfurt. It was a coal-mining region; Germany used more than 15 million people as slave laborers during the war, amounting to 20 percent of the German workforce.
       After the war, first the English and then Americans took control of their Displaced Persons camp. His father was a cook for the soldiers. As a young boy he remembers he and his brother Johnny standing in the food lines with the GIs. They lived off the care packages provided by the American Army. 
       After the war, Walter joined the British Army and went to boot camp as part of an all-Polish unit. They lived in former German POW barracks and were given jobs as guards or performed other work around the camp. He served for five years.
       From a young age he had a gift for languages, learning Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, English and German. He eventually transferred from the British Army to the U.S. Navy and took citizenship and English language classes.
       He was relocated to Le Havre, France, where he learned that family members — already resettled in the United States — were sponsoring him for U.S. citizenship as a war refugee. He boarded the SS United States at Le Harve and made the July 1952 crossing in record time. 
       In 1956, he joined the U.S. Navy, where he served for eight years as a machinist mate on various vessels including the USS Randolph (CVA-15), USS Blandy (DD-943) and USS Decatur (DD-945). While on the USS Blandy, Walter became involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis in late October and early November 1962.
     On October 30, the Blandy, working with patrol aircraft, established radar contact with a surfaced Russian Foxtrot class submarine (B-130). The B-130 submerged and for the next 14 hours the Blandy tracked the sub and eventually forced it to the surface. At the time, it was not known that four submarines carried nuclear tipped torpedoes and that the Soviet navy had given authorization for their use in the event of attacks by U.S. vessels.
     During this engagement, Blandy commanding officer Edward G. ‘Shotgun’ Kelley relied on Walter as a Russian interpreter. At one point Walter spoke directly to Bobby Kennedy, the U.S. Attorney General and brother to JFK, relaying the Soviet sub commander’s intentions to the executive committee at the White House. Experiencing troubles with her diesel engines, the Russian sub turned and headed away from Cuba, closely monitored by the U.S. task force.
       After Walter’s discharge on November 17, 1964, he got a job in New York helping build the World Trade Center towers. When the second tower was 85 percent complete, his company relocated him to Washington, D.C., where it was building the new Soviet embassy. In his spare time he pursued a private pilot’s license with former WWII Navy fighter ace Robert A. Clark Jr. and later formed his own construction company with Clark, Dubicki and Clark.
       He joined Post 206 when he moved to Fairhaven, where he lived until his death in February, 2018.
–Fred Bumgarner
 
 
J Ronald C. Heister J
U.S. Naval Submariner
      In December of 2014, I attended a viewing at a local funeral home for the father of a friend and former coworker of my wife. I had never met the gentleman, Ronald Heister, but I was aware that he was a resident at Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in St. Mary’s County. After leaving the funeral home that evening, I could not get this veteran’s story out of my head, so I would like to share it with you. I think you will agree that it is quite a tale of service and fate.
      The first thing I noticed was a dress-blue Navy jumper in a frame standing next to the coffin, with the insignia of a Storekeeper 2nd Class on the sleeve. A small picture of a very young couple was at the bottom of the frame with a note indicating that it was taken in early 1942 at the time the couple became engaged and just before he had shipped out to the Pacific to serve aboard the USS Pompano. There were two hats in the coffin: one an American Legion hat with the words Rock Hall for his home Post 228 on Maryland’s Eastern Shore; the other a baseball cap with USS Pompano, SS-181 emblazoned in gold letters.
        When the Pompano headed out on patrol July 28, 1943, Heister had remained at the naval base with severe dental problems. The Pompano never returned from that mission. 
        On a website dedicated to the memory of the crew is a notation that Heister “was ashore for some dental work and was not with his shipmates when their boat was lost. He lives for the memory of the men he served with.”
       As I looked over the room at three generations of his family, I thought what a wonderful outcome, but I also thought of the burden that Heister carried in silence for the remainder of his life.
–Fred Bumgarner

One closes (for now); two open

       Finding a public library in Annapolis this spring has become a lot more interesting.
      The 53-year-old Annapolis Library on West Street is now closed, its building scheduled for demolition. With a new library planned for that same spot — and several pop-ups already open — Annapolitans don’t have to look too far for their public library fix. The Annapolis Library is making its temporary home in Monarch Academy on Capital Drive. And a library experiment has just opened in the Westfield Annapolis Mall. 
       The new Annapolis Monarch Library, opened April 16, is off West Street on Capital Drive, with helpful signs pointing you in the right direction. The library and Monarch Academy charter school share the same building, but the library has its own and separate parking spaces and wing.
       In the entryway, you’ll see large renderings of the digitalized plans for the future public library.
      Past the entry, the library exists as one spacious, airy room, with help desks right at the front and a large children’s section past the stacks. Library staff are eager to answer questions about their new home. 
      Gloria Davis Harberts, regional manager for the area, is accommodating and ready to help patrons out of any confusion. 
      “We had people lining up outside before we opened,” Harberts told me. 
      Almost 9,000 items are already in the Monarch location, and the hold shelves are filling up with requests. 
       Harberts wants to make sure the library’s stay in Monarch brings in more users than ever. Class trips  through the library with Monarch Academy students are already a hit.
       “Some of the students have never been to a public library before,” she says. 
       Creating enthusiastic students and making libraries fun are two goals Harberts hopes to meet. 
 
 
A New Discovery
     Nowadays, you can also go to the library when you’re at the mall. Discoveries: the library at Westfield Annapolis Mall, opened April 30. The 3,000-square-foot space is nestled next to Crate and Barrel in the west wing of the mall, across from the Under Armour store.
     “We believe this new library will open many people’s eyes to what a modern library is and does,” Anne Arundel County Public Library chief Skip Auld says. “Public libraries have transformed from simply being places where people pick up their reading or viewing or listening materials to places where people gather to see friends and neighbors and make new friends, to learn from programs.”
      Technology and entertainment play a large role in this space, with a 3D printer, laptop rentals, self checkout, free movie streaming and online tutoring. 
      New Discoveries branch manager Rachael Myers and her team have lots of new programs in the works, many focused on children and teens. There will be early literacy programs and a Discovery Dock children’s area, along with a bilingual reading corner every Tuesday morning.
      To help make the library a creative community, the Annapolis Arts Alliance has partnered with Discoveries Library to showcase local art in the space. The pieces will be changed regularly to feature new artists and new types of art.
      The Discoveries Library is also more accessible to readers and shoppers with Saturday hours, 10am-5pm. 
      “This branch is completely separate and different from the Monarch Academy space,” says Library Communications Manager Christine Feldmann. It has a very different atmosphere. “We hope to prove that bringing a library into an already highly trafficked area will expose the library to new customers and reengage those that haven’t used a library in a while.” 
      Discoveries will be open until the end of 2019. Depending on the success of this space, the library could make another home at the Westfield Mall. 
 
What to Expect
       The new library on West Street is planned to open in late 2019 or early 2020. 
       The new 32,500-square-foot library will be built where the old library stood, the lot now enlarged from 3.9 acres to 4.7 acres. 
       To serve the needs of a changing community, the new building will have a section for tutoring, large computer stations, separate meeting spaces of different sizes and a business center equipped with tools and services such as shared office space.
     There will also be a vending area for snacks and drinks, expanded children’s spaces with comfortable seating and a tinker lab for workshops and classes. 
 
Test It Out
       As a new Annapolitan, I signed up for a library card while I was asking questions. I figured it was a good test of the new Annapolis Library at Monarch 
       After walking through the stacks of fantasy and fiction, I approached the help desk and asked for a card. 
      Five minutes later I was a new library cardholder with all the information I needed. I spotted an interesting-looking new thriller on the staff picks shelf, checked it out and took it home where it’s mine … for seven days.