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by Helen Xia, CHS Student Writer

Fireworks against a dark night sky at the end of the Thurmont Ambulance Co. Carnival.

Photo by Helen Xia

It’s now July, and you know what that means: Independence Day! It’s difficult to forget this valued national holiday, given the fireworks, the smell of toasty barbecue, and the flag of the United States displayed proudly in front of homes and businesses during this time of year.

Just like any other holiday, there is a wide range of emotions that are often felt, ranging from patriotism to excitement to even exhaustion after a day of lively celebration. Upon thinking about what to write for this subject, I recalled an article I read about the shifting attitude of society regarding national pride—a sentiment typically felt on the 4th of July. Interestingly, according to Gallup data, United States adults who claim to be “extremely proud” to be American reached a “record-low” since 2001, measuring 38 percent. Still, it’s worthwhile to note that 27 percent remain “very proud,” and a total of “65 percent of U.S. adults express pride in the nation.”

Given these statistics, I wanted to know how the people around me felt about Independence Day, and perhaps compare the responses between age groups. I divided the respondents into three age groups: young children, teenagers, and adults.

Most of the answers I received from young children were quite brief. “It’s cool,” said an eleven-year-old; “It’s normal,” shrugged a nine-year-old. Reasonable insight, really—I didn’t know anything when I was that age, so I can’t judge!

Another nine-year-old had more to say: “I’m happy and grateful about Independence Day,” he explained, “because the United States of America got their independence and freedom from Great Britain, and without the United States, we wouldn’t have a home and might still have war.” Surprisingly, this explanation from this nine-year-old was one of the most thorough reflections I collected!

A majority of the replies I garnered from teenagers included an explanation of what the holiday is about. We know what we’re talking about! “I guess independence day celebrates independence from Britain,” stated one teenager, “but it also is a day to honor fallen soldiers.” Similarly, another teenager conveyed, “Independence Day is where we celebrate those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. Thanks to them, we have many rights and freedoms today.” This is true, especially taking into account that approximately 6,800 Americans lost their lives in pursuit of independence, with about 6,100 wounded. Not only is it our day to celebrate and commemorate, it is their day, too.

On a more lighthearted note, a 16-year-old (half-jokingly) declared, “I love Independence Day because it’s a reminder of how much the British sucked.” Needless to say, there is more nuance than this, but I found this funny.

Speaking of nuance, another teenager brought up a few thought-provoking points. “While I feel there is no issue in celebrating Independence Day, it may also be an upsetting day for those whose ancestors were on the receiving end of oppression via our country. Independence Day should not only be a celebration of our founding but also an acknowledgment of the United States’ failings in order to improve in the future. Essentially, it should be more a time of reflection than blind joy and backyard barbecues.” To add to this, I once heard a quote that contends, “Before you improve something, you must respect it.” I feel like this applies here.

Another high-schooler commented, “Independence Day, to me, marks an important part of history that marks the beginnings of the country we live in. I don’t think it’s something that every American should necessarily celebrate (because most likely barely any of us [teens] do), but I believe it is important to understand the meaning of Independence Day and the connection it has to us in the time and society we live in.”

Lastly, I interviewed a teenager who comes from a military family, which I thought would be an intriguing perspective to learn about. “I enjoy Independence Day because it brings focus to our history as the United States and the hardworking people who fought for our country in the very beginning so that we could be free today,” she articulated. “My favorite aspect about Independence Day is the fireworks. To me, seeing the sky light up in magnificent colors and designs is a perfect way to end the night with family and friends while celebrating this holiday.”

Reading back on the responses the individuals around my age provided, I found that most of them highlighted the relevance of the history behind the 4th of July and how that significance ties to modern times and the future. I’m happy to know that we are well aware of this vital portion of our nation’s history—after all, precious phenomena like compassion and innovation are rooted in education.

Now, on to the adults’ responses! Right off the bat, the adults’ replies were succinct but enlightening. For instance, a woman suggested, “It’s a necessary holiday to remember the foundations of our country.” We’ve explored several of the emotions and personal values people hold concerning the 4th of July, but this is the first time somebody asserted that the holiday is “necessary.” I thought this was a compelling take since a crucial part of our country’s founding is accentuated and taught on this day. Perhaps some people only know about the American Revolutionary War because of Independence Day; with that in mind, it’s a valuable celebration to hold.

Another adult elaborated, “I’m glad for our freedoms, and it’s a day to celebrate our freedoms and our rights as citizens for what the military has done for us.” Comparably, a grown-up defined Independence Day as “a day that we celebrate our freedoms and our God-given rights, laid down by the Constitution. [It’s] a day we remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

It’s apparent from these answers that the adults, too, seemed to spotlight the history associated with Independence Day.

Finally, a grown-up emphasized the traditions of Independence Day and the joy of celebrating with these practices: “I enjoy picnics, barbecues, and family get-togethers, as well as firework shows and parades with people waving the American flag,” he expressed. “It’s a fun day with origins steeped in the desire for independence and to create a new America.”

As mentioned previously, adults also underscored the events leading up to the Declaration of Independence and how the holiday came to be; however, I observed that while teenagers tended to link this history with present-day society and how to use this information propelling forward, adults employed the United States’ rich history as reasons for celebration. (Of course, one is not necessarily more valid than the other, and my conclusion is from a limited number of interviews. I just thought this observation was cool!)

Independence Day, or July 4th, is a day featuring the American colonies’ grievances and sacrifices, the passing of the Declaration of Independence, and nationhood. Truthfully, I’ve never done anything notable to celebrate this day, but that doesn’t undermine how special it may be to other people. Thinking back, to me, this day used to be simply a day about star-shaped sunglasses and red, white, and blue sprinkles on ice cream; now that I’m older, there is certainly more to think about than that! (And, I hope this article gave you something to think about!)

Did you notice any trends amongst groups of people or differences between the responses above?

Since there is quite a variety of answers, did you relate to any of them?

Regardless, I hope everyone has a delightful July!

Ryan Tokar, Thurmont Little League

On Saturday, May 6, Thurmont Little League (TLL) held its 2023 Hit-a-thon. This is the largest annual fundraiser for the league, and proceeds go toward necessities like field maintenance, uniforms, concession upgrades, and general complex improvements. There were fireworks on and off the field, literally! This event seems to grow bigger and bigger each year, as players enjoy not only the competition of seeing who can hit the ball the farthest, but also who can gain the most dollars in donations. Our TLL families and the surrounding community stepped up once again. This year’s Hit-a-thon brought in over $29,000 in online and cash donations, the largest amount raised in league history!

The Hit-a-thon is an extremely fun event for our players. They have a great time competing against their friends and teammates, and all for a great cause. Players receive one hit for every $10.00 raised, for a maximum of 10 hits. They can continue to raise additional money above and beyond that in order to win prizes. A bonus hit is also awarded if a player brings a non-perishable item for the Thurmont Food Bank.

Prizes are given to the top overall fundraisers and also to the players who hit the ball the longest distance. The Majors and Minors Divisions are judged on where the ball lands, while Coach Pitch and T-ball divisions are given credit for how far the ball rolls.

Distance winners for this year’s Hit-a-thon were as follows: Majors—Nathan Camilleri (201 ft), Daniel Genemans (200 ft), and Nemo Dewees (194 ft). Minors—Carter Misner (145 ft), James Hewitt (144 ft), and Payton Fritz (138 ft). Coach Pitch—Chase Stine (157 ft), Logan Otto (143 ft), and Graham Pearl (141 ft). Finally, from T-ball—Maverick Cox (129 ft), Gabriel Shankle (120 ft), and Lucy Liller/Liam Lawrence tied (112 ft). TLL Softball had a great showing once again this year as well. Distance winners from our Softball program were: Dixie Eckenrode (116 ft), Hadley Crone (115 ft), and Victoria Brown (112 ft).

The overall fundraising winners this year raised some of the highest totals in event history. Congratulations to the following winners: Carson Unger (Coach Pitch Dragons) $1,960, Liam Lawrence (T-ball Blue Jays) $1,650, and Emma Stevens (Softball Mavericks) $770. They will each be awarded an Amazon gift card for their prize. In addition to the individual winners, the teams with the most overall donations earn a free pizza party at the end of the season. Highest earning teams were: T-ball Blue Jays—$2,910, Coach Pitch Dragons—$2,755, Minors Eagles—$1,445, Majors Nationals—$1,115, and Softball Mavericks—$1,335. Along with over $29,000 raised, the league also collected several hundred non-perishable goods which were donated to the Thurmont Food Bank to help those in need. TLL would like to thank the community, parents, and volunteers for their support. Without you, this event would not have been such a tremendous success.

Throughout the day, guests enjoyed treats from Crazy Dave’s Pizza, Snowball Waterfalls, and the TLL Concession Stand. After the dust had settled on the Hit-a-thon, team pictures, and a full slate of in-house games, an impromptu kickball game broke out on the Majors Field, with kids from all divisions enjoying themselves while waiting for it to get dark. Once the sun finally set on the day’s festivities, a huge crowd of TLL family members settled in to enjoy an amazing fireworks display, put on by Innovative Pyrotechnic Concepts. Everyone loved the up-close view of the show, which lasted for over 10 minutes and put an exclamation point on an already fabulous day.

The spring season is winding down, with games concluding in early June. We will then move on to the end-of-the-season tournaments and All-Star games. Look for more information in next month’s issue!

Thurmont Little League collects non-perishable food items for the Thurmont Food Bank

Blair Garrett

Rain or shine, the Thurmont carnivals are always a good time. June is an exciting month. You lose the brisk mornings, the temperature cranks up, and school is out for all of the kids.

June is especially exciting in Thurmont, with not one, but two, carnivals coming to town, giving people a much-needed injection of fun and excitement to start off their summer.

The Thurmont Community Ambulance Company’s annual carnival kicked off at the beginning of June without a hitch. With four days of beautiful weather and tons of great games, sunshine, rides, and bingo, it was almost impossible not to have a great time.

And, who can forget the fireworks! An event more than a millennium old, fireworks are still as captivating today as they were in ancient times. Thurmont Ambulance’s fireworks kicked off just as the light in the sky dimmed, and the finale was a sight to behold. Thurmont Ambulance Company’s Lowman Keeney said, “Our carnival was very successful this year with a gorgeous week and fireworks.”

The Annual Thurmont Firemen’s Carnival at the Guardian Hose Company Carnival grounds powered its way through some stormy weather, but that didn’t dampen the moods of excited families.

Despite some rain delays, the food was coming out hot, spirits were high, and the kids swarmed to the carnival attractions like bees to honey as soon as the clouds parted.

The Firemen’s Carnival is always highlighted by one of the most anticipated parades in Frederick County. And, for the first time since 2019, fire trucks, ambulances, and community members took to the streets to celebrate.

There was loud music, cheering, banners, and a whole lot of fun getting to see all the different people stroll through the main drag in Thurmont.

Good food and good music make for good times, and there’s been no better place to find it throughout the years than the Thurmont carnivals.  

Cover Photo: Patty Phillips’ granddaughter, Lydia, holds up her winnings from the goldfish game at the Thurmont Carnival!

A brave rider takes on the infamous mechanical bull at the Thurmont Community Ambulance Company Carnival.

The kids coaster is one of the most popular rides for kids attending their first carnival or their tenth carnival.

A family takes a fun spin on the Merry-Go-Round.

A duo of carnival-goers race to blast a target with water with the hopes to win a stuffed animal.

Kids take a fun spin on the Scrambler.

Two boys shoot for a chance to win hermit crabs.

Guests flock to food stands as the carnival grounds open.

People line the streets to see the much-anticipated Guardian Hose Company Fireman’s Parade.

A group of kids are midair in one of the most adrenaline-pumping rides at the carnival.

The spinning swings are packed with kids looking for some high-flying fun.

Photos by Blair Garrett

Deb Spalding

This year, the Emmitsburg Heritage Day Event was spectacular for visitors and town residents. The volunteers who worked on the Emmitsburg Heritage Day Committee planned all year to make the day a success. The weather was beautiful, the people were happy, and the fireworks were fabulous. Volunteer Jim Houck, Jr., said, “All (members) of our committee are truly dedicated to helping our community, especially the kids, enjoy a day of fun and games.”

Although it was originally an Emmitsburg Lions Club event, it is now a cooperative effort among multiple organizations. It is hoped that the festival will continue in the future with even more involvement from the community. Jennifer Joy, Heritage Day Committee chair, said, “It was a wonderful day because of the involvement and support of all of the town’s civic organizations, businesses, and churches that make this event possible each year. Through their generosity and commitment, we are able to provide fireworks (Emmitsburg Professional Business Association), parade (Sons of the American Legion), music (Knights of Columbus), food (SAL and Lions), field games (Lions), and kids activities (Christ’s Community Church) at the festival.”

Jim Houck and Mike Hartdagen coordinated the parade that followed the traditional route from the Doughboy on West Main Street to the square, then down South Seton Avenue. Houck boasted, “The turnout was great and we had some last-minute surprises in our line up.” The Parade was well attended and had more than forty organizations participate.  Most enjoyed were the ponies and the Harmony Cornet Band, who also regaled with their talents before and after the Memorial Event.

Through a grant from the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, a History Art Contest was held. Coupled with donations from local organizations and donors, $1,100 in prizes was distributed to nine winners in three categories. Art Contest Winners: Elementary Division—1st Prize, Arianna Calhoun, 2nd Prize, Darren Fry, 3rd Prize, Lynzee Davis, and Honorable Mention, Abigail Mae Turner; Middle School Division—1st Prize, Gabrielle Lee Archie, 2nd Prize, Emily Grace Williams, 3rd Prize, Shae Lynn Archie Fuller, and Honorable Mention, Marques Miller; High School Division—1st Prize, Eli Fryer.

A beach week raffle was also held as a fundraiser for next year’s event, and the winner was local resident, Kendall Moore, from Pembrook Woods. Thanks to all who participated and congratulations to the Moore family!

At the Memorial event, all were touched by guest speaker, Brenda Sheaffer’s, story as someone with severe learning disabilities who struggled to make a living and be considered a contributor to society. With the help of Melwood, a non-profit organization, she has now been able to hold a position as a custodian at the National Zoo and the Auditors Building, before earning a security clearance to work at the White House complex. Also at the Memorial event, responders to Emmitsburg’s three major fires were honored and thanked for their service. Parade awards were given to “Best In” categories, and Art contest awards were given out to winners.

At the Bandstand, Miriam Warther of Fairfield, Synergy (a girl group from the Let there be Rock School of Frederick), Screaming Melina’s from Pennsylvania, and Jellyfish Jam Band (from Emmitsburg) entertained the crowd.

Sack Race winners were: Singles—Andy Walters and Addy Dodson (ages 1-4), Landon Miller and Blake Cool (ages 5-8), Joshua Wantz and Deondre Febus (ages 9-12), Josh Maze and Jayson Howard (ages 13-16), Jack McCarthy/Dave Zentz (tie) and Davey Ott (ages 17 and older); Doubles—Addie Dobson/Tierney Burns and Alyse Scarzello/Andy Walters (ages 1-4), Josh Hahn/Savannah Phebus and Robert Upchurch/Annelle Upchurch (ages 5-8), Deandre Febus/Adrian Febus and Helen Hochschild/Violet Walker (ages 9-12), McKenna Stambaugh/Alexis Cool and Cheyene Marsee/Carmella Ogle (ages 13-16), and Nathan Fritz/Brittany Fritz and Kacie Boyle/Wendy Gray (ages 17 and older).

Egg Toss winners were Kimberly Shields and Kathy Shields.

Water Balloon Toss winners were Steve Wantz, Sr. and Steve Wantz III, who tied with Dave Shields and Dave Shields Jr.

Pie Eating Contest winners were Andy Walters and Felicity Phelan (up to 4 years), Robert Upchurch and Lucien Ridenour and Josh Hahn (ages 5-8), Nate Snyder and Krystal Lane (ages 9-12), Jordan Ebaugh and John Lane (ages 13-16), and Jack McCarthy (ages 17 and older).

Watermelon Eating Contest winners were Cassie Click and Cora Krom (up to 4 years); Sarah Lagare, Thomas Love, and Robert Upchurch (ages 5-8); Krystal Lane, Matthew Know, Deandre Febus, and Nate Snyder (ages 9-12); Danielle Wilson, Hannah Kaas, and Caeley McVearry (ages 13-16); and Jack McCarthy and Jared Suit (ages 17 and older).

Casting Contest winners were Trinity Mahon (up to 4 years), Charlie Scarzell (ages 5-8), C.J. Upchurch (ages 9-12), and Jared Suit (ages 17 and older).

Car Show winners were: Best In Show Overall—Brenda Titman; Truck Division: 1st  Place—Steven Kimmel, 2nd Place—Jean Eyler, 3rd Place—Paul Best; Motorcycle: 1st Place—Robert Droneburg, 2nd Place—Wade Droneburg; Car Division: 1st Place—Stephen Kupick, 2nd Place—Greg Parry, 3rd Place—Brenda Titman, and 4th Place—Jim Hoover.

The Friends of the Emmitsburg Library held their annual book sale.  The Friends raised over $560 to support library programs and the Summer Reading Program.

Next year, the committee hopes to have a carnival and some additional attractions during the event. If anyone is interested in participating or getting involved in the planning of next year’s event, please contact Jennifer Joy at 301-447-6467 or Clifford Sweeney 301-447-1712 or email

Brandon Burris, Savannah Phebus, and Jayson Howard were some of the game winners during Emmitsburg Heritage Day on June 25, 2016.

Photo by Stephanie Freniere


Participants in the Pie Eating Contest enjoyed the game and the sweets.

Photo by Stephanie Freniere


Around 5:15 p.m., families began lining the streets, eagerly awaiting the parade to begin, a much-anticipated event each year.

Photo by Gracie Eyler

Emmitsburg Sons of the American Legion’s Mike Hartdagen presented the Vigilant Hose Company’s Jimmy Click with a plaque of appreciation for their quick response to the house fires in Emmitsburg this past year.

Photo by Gracie Eyler


Greased Pig Chase winners were Savannah Phebus (ages 1-6 years), Mathew Knox (7-11), Jayson Howard (12-16), and Brandon Burris (17 and older).

Photo by Stephanie Freniere


Group shot of some of the riders from Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE), who participated in the mountain bike group rides on the Multi User Trail on Community Heritage Day.

Courtesy Photo