Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Community parade turns 25 this year

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Naomi Brookner⁄The Gazette
Sandy Fletcher and Helene Rosenheim post signs at the entrance to the Brooke Manor Estates community to announce the three-day Olney Days celebration this weekend.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Olney Days Parade, which has evolved into an entire weekend of events designed to celebrate the greater Olney community.

Sponsored and organized by the Greater Olney Civic Association (GOCA), the annual Olney Days celebration has become a much-anticipated rite of spring. It will begin Friday night and continue with the beloved parade on Sunday.

This year’s theme is ‘‘Olney: Our Secret is Out.”

Olney Days Chairwoman Helene Rosenheim said that although residents have long known Olney to be a great place to live, work and raise a family, others are now taking notice.

‘‘We’ve noticed Olney has recently ended up on several lists as a desirable place to live,” she said.

Many of the weekend’s events remain the same, included Joe’s Ride, which attracted more than 700 participants last year, the popular firework display and the parade.

One new event is the Olney Town Meeting planned for Saturday afternoon, where residents are invited to learn about and provide input on four topics relating to the community: the Olney Town Center project, public safety, education and youth, and transportation issues.

‘‘There are a lot of changes planned for Olney with the new Olney Town Center and the [Intercounty Connector],” Rosenheim said. ‘‘With the weekend focusing on the community and the fact that it’s always important for people to be informed and to share their input, it just makes sense for this year.”

There is also a change in the musical entertainment. The Olney Community Band and the Olney Big Band will perform Saturday evening at Olney Manor Park this year. In the past, they have performed at the Mr. and Mrs. Olney competition, but this year the band Crash, comprised of local Olney Elementary School students, will entertain during that event.

‘‘We have elementary school-age kids performing on Friday night, and then Rip Rice who is 84 years old directing the Olney Big Band on Saturday. I think that mimics life in Olney. We are running the full gamut,” Rosenheim said.

Organizers are hoping for good weather, and a good turnout.

‘‘I think Olney Days has something for everybody,” GOCA President Sharon Dooley said. ‘‘There’s the charitable component with Joe’s Ride, fun for children at the parade and the events at Olney Manor Park, and fun for the adults with the band performances and the Car and Truck Show. Helene does an amazing job of covering all the bases to draw in the whole community.”

Friday, May 16, 7 p.m. — The sixth annual Mr. and Ms. Olney Competition will take place in the gymnasium of St. John1s Episcopal School. Nine men and nine women will compete for the crown in a variety of fun parenting tasks. Prizes will be awarded. Crash, a band comprised of local elementary school students, will perform during intermission and between events. To participate in the competition, contact event organizer Judy Casey at or 240-475-2944.

Saturday, May 17, 7 a.m. — Joe’s Ride in Memory of Olney’s Kids, including a 45-kilometer bike ride, a 10-kilometer Family Fun Bike Ride, a 5-kilometer Stride and a children’s bike rodeo, will take place at Oakdale Emory Church. The event is designed to remember local children who have died, and was created in honor of Joe Sanford, an inspiring 10-year-old Olney boy who battled brain cancer for three years before his death in 2002. Proceeds will benefit the Joseph Patrick Sanford Foundation and Special Love, an organization that provides support to cancer families. Registration forms are available at Fletcher’s Service Center on Georgia Avenue or at or online at

Saturday, May 17, 1 p.m. — Olney Town Meeting, held at Oakdale Emory Church, will feature presentations on community issues such as the Olney Town Center project, public safety, education and youth, and transportation. Sponsored by GOCA and moderated by Bob Gill.

Saturday, May 17, 4 p.m. to dark — Olney Days Fun Fair and Fireworks at Olney Manor Park. Ongoing events include a homerun derby, lacrosse shootout, a soccer kick-off, a tennis activity, children’s games and fire engine rides. The Olney Skate Park will offer free introductory lessons and free admission for the day. The popular food contests return, including ice cream-eating, pasta-eating, make-a-dessert, watermelon-eating and seed-spitting. Schedule and registration forms are available at The Olney Community Band and the Olney Big Band, along with Little Hands Kindermusik, will provide entertainment. The events conclude with fireworks at dusk.

Sunday, May 18, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. — The 13th annual Olney Days Car and Truck Show at Fletcher’s Service Center, 17901 Georgia Avenue. A wide variety of vehicles will be on display, including classics, muscle cars and local talent. For information, call 301-924-4500.

Sunday, May 18, 2 p.m. — The 25th Annual Olney Days Parade will be held on Georgia Avenue between Prince Philip Drive and Spartan Road. The parade will feature bands, scout groups, clowns, fire engines, antique vehicles, animal entries and more. Entertainment will be provided near the reviewing stand, located on Spartan Road.

Many volunteers are still needed for all events. Contact Helene Rosenheim at or call 301-774-6744.