Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Community prepared to ‘Celebrate Damascus’

Annual two-day event will begin with parade and fireworks on Friday

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The community will celebrate Damascus for two days this weekend, beginning Friday with the popular parade and fireworks.

The 13th annual Celebrate Damascus festival, which is sponsored by Damascus Chevrolet, Montgomery County and members of the community, is designed to introduce residents to local businesses, houses of worship and civic organizations that they might not know exist, said Linda Riggs of Damascus, one of the celebration’s organizers.

‘‘This is a nice event that everybody can participate in,” she said.

She said organizers expect more than 2,000 residents to attend this year.

The parade will start at Damascus High School at 7 p.m. Friday, traveling north along Ridge Road and Lewis Drive to the Damascus Volunteer Fire Department Activities Building. It will feature fire engines, floats and classic cars.

Music will begin after the parade at the activities center, followed by fireworks at dusk. The rain date for the fireworks is Saturday.

Members of the Damascus Volunteer Fire department will sell chicken dinners and other refreshments in the hall.

Ruby Hyatt of Damascus will serve as grand marshal of this year’s parade.

Hyatt has been active in the Damascus Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary, Damascus United Methodist Church and the Damascus Lions Club.

Edgar C. Richard, 82, of Damascus was supposed to serve as another grand marshal, but he passed away on June 19.

Richard worked 27 years for the U.S. Postal Service in Mount Airy and then in Damascus, serving as its second mail carrier. He operated a home improvement business and worked at other businesses in the community. He was a member of Damascus United Methodist Church for more than 50 years.

He and his family participated in the Celebrate Damascus Parade every year, and his son, Gary, will serve as a grand marshal in his honor.

Tammy Newman of Damascus, who helped to organize the parade, said it is always a popular event among the youngsters.

‘‘People hand out candy and any other items they want to hand out like pencils or pens,” Newman said. ‘‘The kids love it.”

Many of the floats in the parade will feature cartoons, which is the theme for this year’s Celebrate Damascus, she said.

The Damascus Volunteer Fire Department will set up moonbounces on the fire department grounds. The recreation department also will feature a dunk tank on the grounds Friday night and at the Park and Ride lot on the corner of routes 108 and 124 on Saturday.

During the parade, traffic will be diverted from northbound Ridge Road at Sweepstakes Road starting at 6:30 p.m.

All but local traffic will be routed on Sweepstakes to Woodfield Road. Vehicles will be able to return to Ridge Road when the parade is over, which should be about 8:30 p.m.

Celebrate Damascus began as an outgrowth of an automobile show put on each year by the Heart of Maryland Classic Chevy Club and the Late Great Chevys of Maryland.

The clubs helped put together the Damascus Chevrolet Car & Truck Cruise-in on Saturday at the dealership, located at 26100 Woodfield Road.

Residents will display their classic vehicles from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

David Warfield of Damascus, the chairman of the event and owner of Damascus Chevrolet, said residents attend the car show to share stories and trade restoration information while they relive their youth.

He expects about 300 cars to be on display.

The Damascus Lions Club will hold a community flea market from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. inside Damascus Chevrolet. Proceeds will go to the Damascus Lions Foundation.

Entertainment is planned continuously at Damascus Library from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The performances will include acting, singing and dancing from local organizations. The festivities will conclude with an appearance from local pop band Streamers.

A free old-time trolley will make stops throughout town from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

The Damascus Volunteer Fire Department will hold an open house to provide fire prevention information, give tours of the station and offer blood pressure checks.

Many local area churches will offer refreshments and choir performances throughout the day on Saturday. Open houses will be held at Damascus United Methodist Church, Damascus Grace Fellowship and First Baptist Church of Damascus.

The two-day event will conclude at 8 p.m. Saturday with an oldies dance at the Damascus Volunteer Fire Department Activities Building. Admission is $15 per person.

Warfield said Celebrate Damascus has become an important festival in the town.

‘‘It is an opportunity to bring the town of Damascus closer together,” he said.

Staff Writer Susan Singer-Bart contributed to this report.