By Mary K. Tilghman
6:40 AM EDT, October 9, 2012
So what if it rained on Oct. 7? Friends and neighbors came anyway to celebrate Relay Day and the historic little town surrounded by highways and the Patapsco River.
Relay Day, a town tradition that dates back to the first festival in July of 1948, drew more than 100 for a Sunday afternoon of music, games, raffles and children's activities. Ray Chism, a member of the Town Hall Committee, led a historic tour of Relay before the rest of the day's events got started.
A hearty group of about a dozen strolled for a mile and a half, looking at historic homes and talking about the ones that used to be here. Chism talked about the Relay Hotel, built in 1830 and rebuilt after it burned in 1899. Chism has called it home since 1945. "The trains used to stop here," he said.
Another stop was the Town Hall, now celebrating its 100th year. Built as the town's first firehouse in 1912 and maintained as the local library by the Women's Club, it now serves as the main meeting place in Relay.
The hall provided the shelter Sunday. Bands played all day on the second floor stage. There were crafts, games, face-painting and a bake table.
"It worked out OK," said Theda Mayer, president of the Relay Improvement Association.
Relay Day, she noted, was mostly a family affair with a focus on children's activities. For the adults, a wine and cheese party on Oct. 5 began the weekend's festivities.
Both floors of the town hall were crowded and when the rain stopped briefly, children's activities moved outside.
"We made a good bit of money," she said.
Fundraising to maintain the hall was one of two objectives of Relay Day. "It's also to bring the community together," Mayer said.
The century-old hall recently got a bit of a face-lift and Mayer praised three volunteers who spend a lot of their free time maintaining the old building: Chism, Richard Gloth and Bill Hermann. "I do the worrying. They do the labor," she quipped, noting they made sure the new first floor laminate flooring was ready for Relay Day.
Neighbors volunteered to help out, bake cakes or donate items for the raffles. Members of the nearby In-Amen Korean Church helped clear the property a few weeks ago and joined in the Relay Day fun.
"It's amazing how many people participate," she said. "It's a community effort for sure."