Currently viewing the tag: "Thurmont Community Park"

The Frederick County Health Department (FCHD) is offering two rabies vaccination clinics in 2023. The first one is on Sunday, September 24, at the Thurmont Community Park (Community Park Road). The second is Sunday, October 22, 2023, at the Brunswick Park (655 East Potomac Street). Both clinics are from 12:30-3:30 p.m.  

The clinics will be held rain or shine on a walk-in basis. Each vaccination is $10.00 and payable by cash or check only (no debit or credit cards). All dogs, cats, and ferrets 12 weeks old or older are welcome.

As of August 15, 2023, Frederick County had 21 laboratory-confirmed rabid animals for 2023: 11 raccoons, 5 skunks, 3 foxes, 1 bat, and 1 horse. Rabies exposures can impact both pets and their families. Exposures to rabies-positive animals can create the need for people to get post-exposure vaccinations and for pets to complete a quarantine. It is important to note that vaccinated pets have shorter quarantines and, more importantly, much better protection from rabies.

Rabies has a nearly 100 percent mortality rate once an animal or person starts having symptoms. However, rabies fatalities are preventable in humans through avoiding unvaccinated animals or, if exposed, by early administration of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. In pets, rabies is preventable by vaccination or by preventing their exposure to unknown or unvaccinated animals. Since it is not always possible to limit your pet’s interactions with unvaccinated wild or stray animals, it is crucial to get pets vaccinated against this deadly disease. According to FCHD Environmental Health Services Director Barry Glotfelty, “The cornerstone of rabies prevention and control is rabies vaccination of domestic animals, so please take this or other opportunities to vaccinate your pets.”

For additional information about this vaccination clinic or general rabies information, please contact 301-600-1717 or visit

The Lewistown Ruritan Club sponsored a virtual crab feast raffle as a summer fundraiser, suggested by Lewistown Ruritan Secretary Loberta Staley. All the tickets for this fundraiser were sold. The winner received $300 to purchase crabs, shrimp, or to be used however they choose. This was the first time the club has attempted to hold this type of fundraiser, and it proved quite popular.

The winning ticket was drawn at the Lewistown Ruritan annual picnic on August 2 at the Thurmont Community Park. The winning ticket holder was Angie Frye, who was quite excited to be the winner. 

The winning ticket was drawn by Lewistown Ruritan President Frank Warner. Loberta thanked everyone who participated in this successful fundraiser for the Lewistown Ruritan.

BY Richard D. L. Fulton

To some people, squirrels may seem a public nuisance, chewing on wiring and rubber tires, or finding ways into attics, making a mess out of the insulation. 

Some see squirrels as being a free meal, beginning as far back as whenever the original human occupants of the Americas figured out how to catch them.

But to others, merely observing or documenting squirrel behavior provides a glimpse into one of nature’s basic forms of governance, tribalism…hewn into animal perfection in the case of the squirrels during their 40 million years of existence. 

Having initially evolved in North America, squirrels, as a whole, have survived a half-dozen major ice ages and an equal number of periods of moderate-to-maximum global warming and, along the way, ultimately resulted in their inhabiting every continent, except Australia. 

Today, there are over 300 species of squirrels worldwide. Of the five squirrel species that are found in Maryland, the gray squirrel tends to be the species most encountered in Frederick County. Somewhat scarcer species to be observed include the red squirrels, fox squirrels, and Southern flying squirrels. As an aside, there is no shortage of Eastern chipmunks, which are also considered squirrels, as is the woodchuck, according to a county-generated watershed study.

The 23-acre Thurmont Community Park provides the perfect habitat for the gray squirrels, who are arboreal (tree-loving) by nature, and provides park visitors with ample opportunity to enjoy observing their interactions with each other and humans, as well as the playfulness of their young—and they are not particularly camera-shy as well.

In fact, one of the local Thurmont photographers recently found himself engaged in photographing the grays in the park after having returned from his previous employment in Alaska.

Brenton Knott, a Thurmont photography enthusiast, began searching the area for potential photography subjects. He found himself exploring Community Park, where he noticed the prolific gray squirrel population (he had also spotted a rarer red squirrel on one occasion).

Knott said he came across the park when he was in the process of “scouting out potential landscape compositions.” He said, upon arriving at the park, “Immediately after I got out of my car, three squirrels came up to me (seeking edible handouts), so I changed my focus on the squirrels.”

“I did have a chance to feed the squirrels,” he said, adding, “The most interesting thing about them, I thought, was that they were very friendly. They (generally) kept their distance, but they were not afraid to come up to you.”

Knott, who originally hailed from Monrovia in Frederick County, developed an interest in photography while he was attaining his associate degree in music in 2011 at the Frederick Community College. His interest in photography carried over into art classes that he then attended at the University of Maryland.

Knott explained his fascination with photography by its ability to allow one to “capture a whole story in an image.”

In 2014, Knott accepted a position as a deli and bakery manager for the Alaska Commercial Company (and, subsequently, with the State of Alaska Court System), resulting in his move to Kotzebue, 34 miles north of the Arctic Circle. 

While the position was grocery supply related and not photography related, the Alaskan scenery and wildlife further fueled his interest in photography. He soon found himself expanding on the cameras and lenses, and frequently ventured out to take pictures, which included wildlife (mainly birds), scenic landscapes, and his favorite: the Northern Lights. “I shot pictures the whole time I was in Alaska,” he said.

But, when he adopted a seven-week-old female husky, named Coconut, last year, the puppy’s allergic reaction to certain dog foods created a problem. The nearest veterinarian was not within a reasonable driving distance. In fact, it required Knott to secure flight passage for himself and Coconut in order to acquire medical help for his dog. 

With this in mind, he decided to return to Frederick County earlier this year.

Presently, when not indulging in his photography, he is now employed at the Farmhouse Exchange in Thurmont.

Knott said that, ultimately, he would like to relocate to Upstate New York, where he plans “to work remotely, build a homestead, and live a simpler lifestyle,” along with Coconut, whom he believes would more than likely feel more “at home” in the Upstate New York climate.

Brenton Knott has captured thousands of photos of the Thurmont Community Park’s community of squirrels.

Stories of What It’s Like Returning Home After 25 Years

by dave ammenheuser

How do you honor the death of a loved one in the midst of a pandemic?

It’s not easy.

When my parents, John and Elizabeth Ammenheuser, died in the last few months of 2020, our family faced many difficult decisions. Among the toughest: How do you inform family and friends of their deaths?  

 Neither parent died from COVID-19. Dad’s heart gave out on September 1; Mom lost her battle with cancer on December 19. Both left behind clear legal instructions on what they wanted done with their bodies. Per their wishes, they were cremated and their ashes were placed in separate urns.

More than eight months after Dad’s death and more than five months after mom’s, we are finally gathering on June 13 to honor them.

The coronavirus impacted our decisions. Finding a location to hold a service was difficult. Our first choice (and second and third and fourth) were not possible, as policies prohibited indoor gatherings of any notable size. While we don’t expect hundreds of folks to attend the event, even an expected crowd of several dozen is not currently permitted indoors due to safety concerns.

So, we waited until the spring, warmer weather, and the anticipation of vaccinations before deciding on the details of a Celebration of Life (or in this case, Lives) event. 

 Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird offered the perfect solution: A pavilion at the Thurmont Community Park. During a recent visit to my parents’ house (where he bought a paint sprayer from the estate), he told me that the town recently built a new pavilion near the basketball courts. Knowing that the park pavilions are booked far in advance for family reunions, I was astonished to find out the new pavilion was available. But, as we’ve all learned, this hasn’t been a normal year or two.

Thus, we booked the pavilion for June 13 (As a side note, the $50 fee the town charges for the full-day rental is quite the bargain).

Now that the location was chosen, informing folks of the event was the next arduous task. My mother’s address book was terribly out-of-date (her address for me was one in Southern California; my family moved to Nashville in 2012).  

After thumbing through the dilapidated book, I started addressing and stamping the postcards that I had ordered.

Certainly, there are some of my parents’ friends and former co-workers whom I missed. Apologies to them. There hasn’t been a week that’s gone by when I haven’t talked to one of their friends who were surprised to learn that my parents had died. If you’d like me to mail you a postcard to remind you of the event, please email me at [email protected].

After Joe Wolf, deacon of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, offers an opening prayer, we’ll share stories and celebrate John and Liz’s lives.

It’s been a difficult time for all of us. Not just my family. But I’m sure for yours, too.

We all have friends and neighbors who have been impacted by COVID-19. Some have lost jobs; some have been out of work for months; some have lost loved ones. Thankfully, the country appears to be turning the corner. 

However, life will never be the same. At least not in our household. And likely, not in yours either.

Photo by Dave Ammenheuser

New pavilion at Thurmont Community Park.

Theresa Pryor

The mountain may not have been showing her bountiful fall petticoats October 12 and 13, but Thurmont’s annual Catoctin Colorfest event was an artist’s palette of colors and hues.

I was born here in this beautiful part of the country and recently moved back home to Thurmont, so this was my first Colorfest. I had been warned by some that it was “crazy busy.” Well, I just had to see what it was all about, so with camera and notebook in hand, I set off to see for myself.

I was fortunate enough to be able to walk everywhere from my home, so no traffic problems got in my way, though the stream of never-ending vehicles on U.S. Route 15 was astounding. Walking downtown on Friday, I felt the expectancy and excitement in the air. Shopkeepers seemed ready, though some were more jaded than others in what they were ready for, but for the most part, anticipation was in the air.

Down at Thurmont’s Community Park, vendors were putting up their tents and tables, readying them with a plethora of wares that, come Saturday, would hopefully be purchased. I could only get a peek at some so I enjoyed greeting other walkers out nosing around. At the park’s entrance, I stopped and chatted with Betty Burdock and Diana Lewis who were efficiently directing vendors to their assigned spaces. They seemed old hands at this and we chatted about how great the weather looked for the weekend. When I left the park later in the afternoon, closed white tents filled with yet to be discovered goodies, sat like friendly ghosts in waiting.

Saturday proved to be the reason that Colorfest is often called an experience rather than an event. Hitting Main street, I was immediately caught up in the flow of foot traffic and while one might feel a bit out of control in this sea of humanity situation, countless strollers, dogs, and wagons, I felt part of something exciting transforming Thurmont’s everyday life. It was an energetic synthesis! And there was definitely a mission mentality emanating from those who know just how to shop.

Established in 1963, Colorfest has come a long way. What started as a nature walk has evolved into a juried arts and crafts festival featuring well-known and respected artisans from across the United States. It is one of the largest outdoor craft show events on the East Coast.

As I traversed the park, more colors blossomed as handmade candles, silk flower arrangements, Christmas ornaments, jewelry glittering in the sunlight, prism fan pulls and even a small field of Blue Heron yard art that swayed and bobbed in the breeze; there were amazingly innovative crafts, beautiful art and clothing, not to mention the delicious food options whose smells beckoned half way across the park before you even saw the booth. Everything you could ever ask for on a beautiful fall day was all there in one, compact slice of retail heaven. Crazy busy? Yes. Crazy beautiful, too!

One must be quick when interviewing someone working. Their focus is on their customers and that is as it should be, so finding a vendor freed up for a few minutes was a challenge. I lucked out when I ventured into a booth that displayed countless USB Port Lamps. Looking like little r2d2’s ready to do your bidding, this was one of the most innovative items I had seen that day. Owners, Kate and Steve Imes, were happy to answer my questions, the most pressing being, “What in the world made you think to create this?”

Why, necessity being the mother of invention, of course! Their son had gone off to college a number of years ago and called home to complain that the dorm room he shared had one outlet per side. Plugging in a lamp and one other item was less than efficient, so Steve went to work inventing his USB Port Lamp, which was selling like proverbial hotcakes in this, their 5th year at Colorfest. Kate makes the shades and they come in a variety of colors and themes. As I thanked them and left, another group entered the tent and I overheard someone ask…. “What in the world made you think to create this?”

I spoke with other vendors that day and the two overriding themes about this year’s Colorfest was the weather (perfect!) and that it was the busiest year, ever (perfect!). “It doesn’t get any better than this”, one vendor commented.

Over on the back side of the park I was intrigued to see an American Flag made from shotgun shells positioned front and center in a booth. A lovely, smiling young woman greeted me as I entered. In asking Janelle James where the idea came from, she explained that she was a military wife who loved to craft. She and her husband, Zach, create designs from shells and use their Etsy Shop to promote pride and patriotism. This was their 6th Colorfest and they love coming here.

I wrapped up my day with an order of French fries with vinegar and salt and sat on a bale of hay watching people, dogs and kids. My overall opinion of Colorfest? It was fabulous and I am going to do it again next year.

What does a military wife do when her husband is serving the country? Ready, Aim, Craft! And that is just what Janelle and Zach James named their company, a craft shop comprised of products celebrating American pride and patriotism. Their sixth year at Colorfest was a huge success!

This year, Carol and Steve Newmann, of Chapel Crafts, celebrated their 47th year at Colorfest. The Newmann’s craft leather belts continue to please new as well as repeat customers.

Catoctin Colorfest, Inc. provides three scholarships each year in the amount of $1,000 and one scholarship in the amount of $1,500, to be awarded to Catoctin area high school graduates who are continuing their education.

Scouts in the Park will be held on July 25, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. in Thurmont Community Park. No matter what Scouting uniform you wear, you are invited to come for food, games, skill-building activities, and lots of fun. 

Are you interested in finding out more about Scouting? Come talk to leaders from local Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Venturing, and Girl Scout Troops.

Grace Eyler

Friday, October 13, 2017, marked the beginning of the 54th Catoctin Colorfest weekend in Thurmont. On this morning, the streets were busy with locals snagging a great deal at the yard sales that were set up all over town. The town had started to bustle. Some locals were preparing for the busy weekend by getting their errands done early to avoid the clog of crowds expected to attend the festivities beginning early Saturday morning. Vendors were seen throughout town setting up their own temporary storefronts. Some even set up camp. After a few rainy days leading up to the weekend, the forecast was showing sun.

By Saturday morning, the crisp fall air and overcast skies snuggled the area, still with no chance of rain. By 9:00 a.m., the sidewalks were busy on Church Street with families and their children, or groups of friends, walking purposefully in the same direction—towards the center of town. Individual people disappeared and many became a crowd as they swarmed in search of great finds like hand-crafted items, gifts, and home decor, or delicious food from diverse vendors.

For some ladies, Colorest is a chance for a “girls day” while they carried wooden tables, bags and carts of home decor down the street. Children passed by with colorful painted faces while indulging in funnel cakes. Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird cruised the streets, kindly offering a ride on his red “Mayor Mobile” golf cart to those walking a distance.

By the time visitors had passed the square, the aromas of the unique food vendors filled the air. Just around the turn, on Frederick Road, area local Scott Haines beamed with excitement for the first day of the festival. In the spot that was once occupied by “Gertie’s Hot Sauce Pretzels,” he and his dad, Allen, sold wooden handmade Maryland flags. “I still flip the Gertie’s neon sign on, just to have people come up and ask (his dad Allen) about the pretzels,” Scott laughed.

Across from the park, the Stebbing Family displayed a wooden forest of beautiful handmade sculptures. Locals Mandy Stebbing and her daughter, Sophia, busily answered questions about the carvings from intrigued customers. As she enjoyed an oversized snow cone, Sophia exclaimed, “I love Colorfest! I love seeing all of the different vendors and what they have to offer…and the snow cones across the street are delicious,” she added, pointing to the trailer.

At the entrance of the grand Catoctin Colorfest at the Thurmont Community Park, people waited patiently for one of the Thurmont Community Ambulance Company’s famous apple dumplings. Some attendees make it their single goal to purchase one of these fresh desserts. “Every year I’ve come to Colorfest, I don’t leave until I’ve had a dumpling,” explained Brittney Wivell, as she enjoyed her dumpling while touring the craft tents.

In the middle of the park, Scott Hornbaker, a craftsman from St. Mary’s, Georgia, displayed his wrought iron hummingbird feeder hooks. He said he looks forward to Colorfest every year, “It’s great, I can even camp out behind my booth.”

Right down the path, local writer and author, Jim Rada, and his son, Sam Rada, sold Jim’s books. By mid-Sunday, Diaries of Catoctin had sold out. Jim took the opportunity to sneak off and do a little shopping of his own while Sam (age fifteen), manned the booth and greeted the interested customers. “I love the fact that everything is handmade. You can see some really beautiful stuff here,” Sam reflected, as he showed his appreciation for a steampunk style necklace he purchased earlier in the day. It’s like early Christmas for Jim. He returned with a new small metal figurine of a time machine that was made by a neighboring vendor. Even though the Radas have only been setting up for three years at Colorfest, they’ve been attending for nine years. Jim makes sure he gets a new little metal robot for his collection every year.

Criswell Auto made space for a variety of vendors, while also taking the opportunity to display the best of their new vehicles. As husbands would gather around the decked-out trucks, their wives would meander into the nearby craft tents. You’d even hear a few razz their husbands, “We aren’t here to buy a new truck,” as they moved on to the next place.

Away from the main Colorfest drag, crowds traveled around Thurmont’s Memorial Park over to East Main Street. Hobb’s Hardware housed several vendors, including locals John and Kathy Dowling of Old Field Woodworking. Brenda Rigby, an enthused Colorfest attendee, makes it a point to visit their display every year. She said, “It’s a great chance to get friends together; we’ve made a tradition of attending.” On Sunday, the Thurmont Historical Society’s Beer Garden provided a shaded oasis on the eighty-degree afternoon. Adults took the opportunity to enjoy a cold beer and try Josh Bollinger’s Uncle Dirty’s BBQ. Robert Eyler and other Historical Society volunteers were upbeat about the outcome of the weekend, and look forward to bartending again next year. Silas Phillips, Megan Setlock, and Timothy and Brittany Renoylds stopped by the beer garden to take a break on the busy afternoon. Megan claimed that they look forward to the Colorfest activities every year as an opportunity to get together with their friends.

As five o’clock neared on Sunday afternoon, crowds began to dissipate, and the Town of Thurmont rejoiced and reclaimed its streets. Vendors packed up. Buses delivered tired shoppers back to parking lots that were now sparse with vehicles.

Life started to return to normal in the town, as the work to remove the rubbish from thousands of people began. While cleaning up, the plans began for the 55th Annual Catoctin Colorfest.

Photo by Grace Eyler

Mandy and Sophia Stebbing proudly display wood carvings at their Joe Stebbing Sculptures booth during Colorfest.

Thurmont’s Scott and Allen Haines are shown at their Colorfest display.

Sam Rada shows one of his father’s book covers at their James Rada, Jr. Book Sale booth at Colorest.

Neighbors Skeeter and Willie watch the crowds of people come and go during Colorfest in Thurmont.

The Town of Thurmont Streets and Parks Department, the Thurmont Green Team, the Frederick County Forest Conservancy Board, the Maryland Forest Service, and approximately twenty additional volunteers gathered together on November 5, 2016, for a tree planting project in Thurmont Community Park. Thurmont’s Community Park is located on a 24-acre site on Frederick Road. The park is a picturesque oasis of towering trees, providing a shaded place to play, a walk-on-the-level path that winds through the park, a gathering spot in one of the pavilions, or a rest to enjoy nature’s beauty. The park is a hub for the annual Catoctin Colorfest, which attracts up to 100,000 visitors on the second weekend in October each year. Halloween in the Park, the Lions’ Club Easter Egg Hunt, and a holiday lights display are some of the other popular events that are held in the park each year.

The park is well cared for and beloved by the local community, but its trees are being impacted by the invasive emerald ash borer that is devastating ash trees in the United States. The Maryland Forest Service evaluated the park in the winter of 2016, and found a high percentage of the trees in the park are ash and very susceptible to the borer.

Through additional field work, partnerships, and designated funding, the town developed a plan to manage this threat to the very popular park. High-risk trees are currently being removed, healthy ash have been treated to protect from borer attacks, and a variety of other trees are being planted.

Twenty-five trees were planted in locations throughout the park, paying particular attention to areas where trees were lost and where shade trees would create a more pleasant environment for park visitors. Areas near playgrounds and near the heavily used exercise trail were identified as areas where more shade is needed. The trees planted were a native mix of serviceberry, red maple, hackberry, and pin oak, that will mature to provide shade and many environmental services to the community.

It was important to plant a diversity of tree species to reduce the risk of such a devastating event like the emerald ash borer in the future from impacting the park and town resources so extensively. Many hands made easy and satisfying work of the planting. The Thurmont Streets & Parks personnel provided trucks to haul the trees, necessary tools, water, and mulch for the trees to have a strong start in their new locations.

Many young persons enjoyed the effort and did their share of the work while learning how to properly plant the potted trees. Instructions were provided by Maryland Forest Service Forester Becky Wilson, who also supervised the progress of the project. A biodegradable tree shelter was installed around each tree to prevent damage by weed eaters, deer, and rabbits. The trees were provided by the Maryland Forest Service through the TreeMendous Maryland program.

The Thurmont mayor and commissioners read a proclamation at their November 1 meeting, declaring November 5 as Arbor Day in Thurmont. The mayor and commissioners decided some time ago to be proactive in the fight against the emerald ash borer and to begin an extensive program to save as many trees as possible, while planting new trees to replace the ones lost. Plans are already in place to host another tree planting project in the spring. In addition, the mayor and commissioners are implementing a “Donor Tree” program, allowing residents to purchase a tree to be planted in the park to recognize a loved one.


Maryland Forest Service Forester Becky Wilson demonstrates the proper technique to plant the new trees, while young Emmet Euliano (far left) assists. Steve Parsons (back, left), Elsa Parsons (far right), Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick (taking pictures), and additional volunteers learn the technique before planting trees throughout the Community Park.

The Town of Thurmont is partnering with the Catoctin Mountain Park on the Gateway Trail project. The Gateway Trail links the Thurmont Memorial Park, the Trolley Trail, and the Thurmont Community Park to the trailhead located at the Lewis Area on West Main Street. Until further acquisition can be obtained by the Town of Thurmont, the current Gateway Trail alignment starts at the Trolley Trail to the east and the Community Park to the south. From those two points, the alignment turns north onto South Altamont Avenue and then turns west on West Main Street, eventually linking to the Lewis Area of Catoctin Mountain Park, just west of Route 15. The trail from the Lewis Area then connects hikers to scenic Chimney Rock.

Thurmont Public Works crews installed Gateway Trail signs identifying this route. This project creates a wonderful connection between the park and Thurmont. Thanks to Main Street Manager Vickie Grinder, former Catoctin Mountain Park Superintendent Mel Poole, and current Park Superintendent Rick Slade for spearheading this project.

James Rada, Jr.
2016-07-12_JAK_1496Early Tuesday morning, July 12, 2016, a line of tour buses pulled into Thurmont’s Community Park. About 250 rock musicians and roadies spilled out of the buses, stretched, and got ready to work.

They separated into groups and spread out throughout the community, not to sing and play instruments, but to help beautify the area.

They were part of the Vans Warped Tour, a traveling rock revue, featuring dozens of bands. Not only have members of the tour helped beautify communities, but they have also helped out in the wake of big disasters such as New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy.

This year, the group is helping out along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, the historic and scenic byway between Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and Charlottesville, Virginia. Working with Shuan Butcher, director of communications for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, the group identified places where they could be of some help.

“It’s a great activity, and they came ready to do some hard work,” said Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird.

By 7:00 a.m., groups had divided up to help out in the park, the Catoctin Furnace, the Thurmont Historical Society, Cunningham Falls State Park, Owens Creek Campground, the Emmitsburg watershed, the Appalachian Trail, and Catoctin Mountain Park.

Donna Voellinger, president of the Thurmont Historical Society, said that eighteen people came to assist historical society volunteers with outdoor work to the grounds.

“They didn’t need a lot of direction,” Voellinger said. “They just needed a task.”

She added that both the Warped Tour volunteers and the Historical Society volunteers seemed to have a lot of fun while they worked.

A group of artists painted a mural on the basketball court wall in Community Park.

“It’s a great piece of art,” Kinnaird said. “It adds a lot to the basketball courts and the park.”

The groups met back at the park for lunch around noon and headed out of town after that. A few of them stayed later to finish the mural, but even those stragglers were gone by 6:00 p.m. They left behind not only a more-beautiful area, but a piece of art that will remind residents of their generosity for years to come.

The day of service for the Warped Tour volunteers came between concert days in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Mansfield, Massachusetts.

Photos Courtesy of
Mayor John Kinnaird (fourth from right) stands with a group of talented artists of the Vans Warped Tour in front of the awesome mural they painted on the wall by the basketball courts in Thurmont Community Park.

Members of the Acacia Masonic Lodge #155 of Thurmont hosted Strawberry night on June 20, 2016, in the Thurmont Community Park. This date was appropriate since the Strawberry Moon coincidentally occurred that evening. The Strawberry Moon, according to Native American Algonquin tribes, occurs when the full moon falls on the summer solstice. It announces the readiness of fruits and vegetables ripe for picking.

During the 2016 annual Strawberry Night ceremony, Lodge #155 honored young people in the Thurmont Community with scholarships to further their education. The event was attended by Acacia members, visiting Masons, and award recipients and their families.

Maryland Grand Lodge Treasurer Bill Giles said, “This is what Masonry is all about. The Grand Lodge of Maryland gives out $57,000 in scholarships throughout the state annually, while Acacia Lodge gives out $7,500 annually.”

The Masons provide a student from Catoctin High School with a scholarship of up to $4,000 for attending college level studies. Last year’s 2015 recipient was Lydia Spalding, who attended Frederick Community College and is pursuing a degree in Occupational Therapy. This year’s 2016 recipient was Justin Cissell. Justin is also a member of the Frederick DeMolay. He experienced a new level of making a difference in the community by being a part of the organization. He will attend Frederick Community College in the fall. Stephanie Kennedy received a scholarship of $1,000 to study Criminal Justice at Mount St. Mary’s University.

This year, a new special scholarship was created in memory of Brother Bernie Cohen, who passed away recently. Thurmont Worshipful Master (lodge president), John Hagemann, said, “If Brother Bernie had the chance, he would have given out all of the money in the lodge to the young people in the community.”

In honor of Brother Bernie, a scholarship was created in the amount of $1,000 plus a fundraiser (this year, a pig roast at Catoctin Breeze Winery raised an additional $500). Kylie Warner was the recipient of the award. She will attend Frederick Community College in the fall.

Young people who are interested in becoming a Mason may join as members DeMolay for young men or JOBS Daughters for young ladies. Women join the Order of the Eastern Star. Men join their area’s Masonic Lodge. For more information about our area’s Masonic membership, please call John Hagemann (Thurmont’s Acacia Lodge #155) at 301-271-2711 or Ernie Gelwicks (Emmitsburg’s Tyrian Lodge #205) at 301-447-2923.





Pictured with Acacia Masonic Lodge #155 are scholarship recipients (from left) Kylie Warner, Lydia Spalding, Stephanie Kennedy, and Justin Cissell.


This year a new special scholarship that was created in memory of Brother Bernie Cohen who passed away recently. Pictured are his daughter Mary Ann, his wife Roberta, and his twin brother and fellow Mason George Cohen.

James Rada, Jr.

Colorfest photo - taken by Traci SolichThe crowds have gone now, Colorfest 2015 is over, and life in Thurmont is back to normal. Many local non-profit organizations got their annual boost of funding from the estimated 125,000 people that crowded into Thurmont for the event that was held during the second weekend of October.

Although Colorfest started out as a nature walk fifty-two years ago, it has now grown into Maryland’s largest craft festival. It boasts 240 juried exhibits, plus many more vendors in and around the town. You could find original paintings, metal sculptures, hand-sewn quilts, homemade soaps, unique jewelry, and much more. Each year, there seems to be a new trend in which crafts are popular.

At one time, Colorfest had four juried areas: the Thurmont Community Park, Thurmont Middle School, the Guardian Hose Company Carnival Grounds, and the American Legion. Though the festival is as large as ever, Community Park remains the only juried area with 240 vendors.

Outside of the park, yard sales and non-juried craft shows have sprung up everywhere throughout the town. The town closes off parts of South Water Street and Frederick Road to accommodate the masses of people. The town government provides buses to shuttle visitors from various parking areas around town, including the schools.

The weather for this year’s Colorfest was near perfect, which brought out tens of thousands of visitors who clogged the streets throughout Thurmont. As a first-time vendor this year, but having attended many previous Colorfest festivals, I can tell you that the crowds this year were incredible. It was my best weekend ever for a festival.

The food vendors seemed to do particularly well with lines that seemed to stay steady with a dozen or more people in them. Colorfest represents the largest fundraiser of the year for many community organizations. The local school PTAs park cars at the schools and can raise around $4,000 in a weekend. The American Legion and Guardian Hose Company rent vendor spaces on their properties.

Over the years, Colorfest has donated more than $110,000 in scholarships to the local schools, made annual donations to the Guardian Hose Company and Thurmont Community Ambulance Company, purchased the town’s Christmas decorations, purchased playground equipment for town parks, sponsored family and children’s events, paid for the redecoration of the town office meeting room, and many more functions in support of the community.



Trick-or-Treating: October 31 — 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Halloween Parade and Costume Contest: October 31 — Tagging begins at intersection of Federal and De Paul Streets at 6:30 p.m. Parade Route: Federal to North Seton to School Lane at Paul’s Pit Stop, follow to cross Lincoln to back of VHC for a party! Games, refreshments, contest winner announcements, and prizes at Vigilant Hose Company (VHC) following the parade. Judging will include five categories: Cutest, Ugliest, Scariest, Most Original, and Groups.


Trick-or-Treating: October 31 — 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Halloween in the Park: October 24 — Halloween in the Park will be held in the Thurmont Community Park at 6:00 p.m. 12U Costume Contest at 6:30 p.m. Costume categories (age groups: 0-2, 3-5, 6-9, 10-12): Prettiest, Ugliest, Scariest, and Most Original. Rain date is October 31. Admission is $2.00 and can of food.

Emmitsburg Veterinary Hospital Howl-O-Ween Dogs Day Out

Bring your dogs in for a Halloween-themed free playdate on Saturday, October 24, 2015, from 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Emmitsburg Veterinary Hospital has expanded its yard to incorporate two large play areas, complete with pea gravel, toys, and obstacles; the dogs can enjoy playing with other dogs that match their temperament and size.

There will be prizes for cutest, scariest and funniest costumes. Pet parents should dress up to join their Owner/Pet Look Alike Contest. Snacks and light refreshments for two-, three-, and four-leg friends will be provided.

All pets must have a vaccine history that is current on rabies, distemper and kennel cough (Bordatella) vaccinations to be able to attend and play safely with other dogs.

The Emmitsburg Veterinary Hospital is located at 9436B Waynesboro Pike in Emmitsburg.

Call them at 301-447-6237, and they will put you on their sign-up sheet. They can also call your veterinarian to get your vaccination records.



Randy Waesche

Fifty years ago three of Thurmont’s leading citizens figured in two of the most remarkable episodes in town politics. The men were Donald L. Lewis, Roy W. Lookingbill, and Calvin G. Wilhide.

Mayor Lewis

Mayor Lewis

Donald L. Lewis was one of Thurmont’s most-progressive mayors. Although only in office for just over five years, the effects of his tenure are still felt today. Of impressive stature and fitness, he came from a large and prominent Thurmont family. He was a staff sergeant in the Army Rangers during World War II and landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day. In 1956, he opened Lewis’ Confectionery on the square, a widely known general store that sold everything from fountain sodas to fishing rods. Forty years old when first elected mayor in 1959, he embarked on an activist course and worked with political leaders at all levels, and courted anyone with an eye to expand local business. Concerned that unregulated land use had allowed Thurmont to become blemished with such nuisances as dilapidated house trailers, he secured federal grant funding and developed Thurmont’s first planning and zoning ordinance, master plan, and subdivision regulations. He brought the state economic development commission to Thurmont where they touted the local spirit of cooperation and new local opportunities for progress. Surveys were undertaken to evaluate and improve town water and sewer service and establish policies for underground electric in new growth areas. He was in front of the Maryland Department of Forests and Parks advocating for local recreation areas. He opened discussions that eventually led to the Town’s ownership of what is now the 20-acre Thurmont Community Park. Lewis worked with local businessman Victor Leisner and broke ground for Greenfield Estates, a major subdivision on the town’s eastern edge then at Blue Ridge Avenue. The project promised to include the largest sewage and water development ever undertaken and was the first under the town’s new developer’s policy. He appointed the first planning and zoning commission, chaired by his brother Harry “Buck” Lewis, who owned a Sinclair auto service station diagonal from the confectionery. When plans stalled for a new north county high school, Lewis and some Emmitsburg officials headed to the Board of Education, kept the project moving, and within five years Catoctin High School opened. He worked with magistrate M.T. Mathwig to relocate local court from a rented Water Street building to the Town Office. Revision of a new town code was introduced. There seemed to be no end to the energy of mayor Donald Lewis.

Mayor Lookingbill

Roy W. Lookingbill owned and operated Lookingbill’s Barber Shop in the first block of East Main Street for 22 years. He had twice won a town commissioner seat and in 1963 ran for mayor against Lewis, but lost. Two years later in April 1965 Lewis was unexpectedly alone on the ballot for mayor and seemed to have an easy path to a fourth term. Although short on time and in uncharted legal territory, Lookingbill launched a write-in candidacy for mayor. To guard against spelling disqualifications, several thousand stickers were printed with his name and distributed across town. Voters were asked to become “sticker lickers for Lookingbill” and were instructed how to affix the stickers onto the ballot and mark an X alongside. A car with loudspeakers slowly drove the town’s streets loudly asking for votes for the mayor’s challenger. Hundreds of orange handbills from the Lookingbill campaign were spread through town that contained a list of allegations against the incumbent, and the town was rife with opinion about the upstart long shot bid. It would be weeks following the election before debate quieted about the accuracy of the handbill, but the vote was in. In an election where 627 votes were cast for mayor, Lookingbill had narrowly won by 19.

Calvin C. Wilhide

Calvin C. Wilhide

One of Thurmont’s more colorful personalities, Calvin G. Wilhide was the owner of Wilhide Chevrolet-Oldsmobile on Water Street, formerly owned by Fred Redding and started by Edwin Creeger over 40 years before. Wilhide also owned the Texas Lunch on West Main Street, operated an amusement machine business, owned and raced prize horses at Shenandoah Downs, and also had a trucking business and garage on Carroll Street Extended that included his Thurmont Star rural mail route. Known by many as Pud (pronounced like the first syllable of “pudding”), he had run for mayor in 1959 and 1961 but lost both times to Lewis. He won a town commissioner seat in 1964. On the town board he was especially critical of the town’s new zoning policies, which he declared were ruinous to business. He was again nominated to oppose Lewis in 1965 but surprised many when he declined, setting the stage for Lookingbill’s successful bid. With a year to go as commissioner, Wilhide settled in with the new mayor and board. Then came a situation that eclipsed April’s upset election in local lore.

Carroll E. Kinsey was a local developer. Among his real estate holdings was a brick building that is now the Thurmont Senior Citizens Center on East Main Street. It was in a town zoning district that allowed commercial uses. In the fall of 1965 Kinsey leased half the building to the Board of Education to hold 60 students from the overcrowded Thurmont Elementary School across the street. The other half he leased to a business called Shankle Body Works. Only thin sheets of drywall separated two grade-school classrooms from the noisy riveting, hammering, and welding operations of the truck trailer assembly plant. Amid the racket, classroom instruction was impossible. Thurmont zoning inspector Austin Bruchey stepped in and declared that the operations of the body shop were industrial rather than commercial, and therefore not allowed under the zoning policies. He ordered it shut down. To relieved parents and a grateful board of education, if ever there was a reason to have zoning policies, this was it. To Calvin Wilhide, the snuffed business proved if ever there was a reason not to have zoning policies, this was it. At the next town meeting on October 11, 1965, Wilhide sought to reverse the ruling. After a bitter and contentious meeting, the board refused to override their zoning inspector. Wilhide quit. Within days he reconsidered, and said he would return if allowed. At first, the board said no, but after being lobbied by some civic leaders, new mayor Lookingbill scheduled a meeting for October 21 to further discuss the matter. Controversy again swirled and for the second time that year, the town was consumed with opinion about the latest political drama.

On the evening of October 20 in his office at his car dealership with his son and Kinsey, Calvin Wilhide was stricken with a heart attack. He was dead at the age of 51.

A little over a year later on the first of December 1966, following a normal day at his barber shop, mayor Roy Lookingbill suffered a heart attack and died at his home. He was 57. Former mayor and commissioner C. Ray Weddle again took the helm, and during his long service to Thurmont was elected mayor ten times.

In 1970 Donald Lewis was elected to the Frederick County Board of Commissioners and was named vice president. He served two terms. Today he has been with us longer than any former Thurmont mayor or county commissioner, still sharp at 96.