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Towson Fourth: Rodgers Forge ready to bask in Fourth of July glow

Towson enclave chosen as parade's 'spotlight community'

By Katie V. Jones

9:55 AM EDT, June 28, 2012

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This Fourth of July, the Rodgers Forge Community is intending to enjoy its moment in the spotlight.

Selected to be the "spotlighted community" in Towson's Fourth of July parade, Rodgers Forge residents of all ages will march in the parade wearing T-shirts with the community's row home design.

"We're just tickled to death," said Janice Moore, a proud Forge resident helping to organize the participants. "We're kind of excited getting a little of exposure here. It's kind of cool."

This is the sixth year parade organizers have featured a neighborhood in the parade, according to Maryann Albaugh, parade chairwoman.

While there is "no rhyme or reason" how a neighborhood is selected, she said, organizers try to feature either a neighborhood north or south of the Beltway every year.

"So far, every community we have asked has been more than willing to participate," Albaugh said. "The people in the community ride in convertibles and members walk."

While all neighborhoods are welcome to participate in the parade, Rodgers Forge will be the focus, Albaugh said.

"We provide them with a banner," Albaugh said. "They come and ... showcase their community."

Established in 1923, Rodgers Forge has many community features to highlight, including two public schools — Rodgers Forge Elementary and Dumbarton Middle — as well as the historic Dumbarton Mansion; an active Towson Recreation Council (home of the Kelly Post Lacrosse, the nation's oldest lacrosse program); a number of playing fields; and 1,777 homes in less than one square mile, according to Moore.

"We've got a little city here," Moore said. "We're just a real great community."

The community is named after George Rodgers, a blacksmith, who bought four acres on the southeast corner of Stevenson Lane and York Road in the 1800s for his business.

The original forge was replaced in 1865 by a structure which survived until 1947 when it was replaced by a gas station. While the original building no longer stands, a piece of the original forge — the tweer — is on display in the lobby of Rodgers Forge Elementary School.

"It is a beautiful, beautiful coffee table in the school lobby," Moore said of the school display. "It is a black iron table with a glass top and inside is the tweer."

The community of Rodgers Forge was formally started in 1923 by James Keelty Sr. and grew to approximately 500 homes until after World War II, when James Keelty Jr. expanded the community to its current size. "The Forge" was added to the National Register of Historic Places in October 2009.

The community also boasts another long standing group — Cub Scout Pack 439 was chartered more than 60 years ago, and the Rodgers Forge Board of Governors has held its charter for most of the time.

Students from the schools will march in the parade, as will members of the Cub Scout Pack, Moore said.

"We're not doing a float," she said of the decision to walk. "We're just looking forward to it and being able to wave."

Forge-ing Fourth

As the spotlight community in the Towson Fourth of July Parade, the Rodgers Forge community will be front and center when the parade steps off at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 4. In addition to a number of organizations walking in the parade, the following local residents will be featured in cars along the route:

Car 1 — Bryan and Melissa Tillman. Bryan Tillman is current vice president of Rodgers Forge Community's Board of Governors, and Melissa Tillman is a former three-term president of Rodgers Forge Community Inc.

Car 2 — Don Gerding and Carol Zielke. Gerding, a resident of the community for more than 50 years, is a past vice president of the community association and is its current external affairs chairman. Zielke is the current recording secretary for the association, and has lived in Rodgers Forge for 37 years.

Car 3 — Dave Crockett's red 1967 Mustang convertible will carry Jean Duvall, a past president of the community association and past president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, and Ginny Allen, a current board member.