Around Towson, people buzzing about Phelps as a hometown hero

Last night, America got the chance to see Towson's favorite son,Michael Phelps, win his Olympic-record 19th medal in impressive fashion.

Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time as he cruised to gold in the 200-meter freestyle relay at the 2012 Olympic games in London.

Less than a day later, the community was talking about the Towson High School graduate's record-breaking feat. As the lunchtime crowd shuffled through Towson, Phelps' name was on the lips of diners at Charles Village Pub.

"I was really proud of him, and very excited," said Kitty Dunseath, who lives in the Thornleigh neighborhood. "I hope he gets three more."

"I do too," Jenny O'Flaherty of Lutherville added from across the table. "I think it's terrific. I'm very proud that he went to school with my kids at Towson. He's a great famous son."

Elsewhere around town, people were talking about Phelps' achievement — and his local ties.

"We're just in our office talking about it, and how the young man and his family have worked so hard," said Nancy Hafford, executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce.

"I got up at 3:30 a.m., quarter to four to watch a piece on his family and how they haven't taken vacation — all their vacations have been based around his swimming meets," Hafford said. "He has done a phenomenal job and definitely made Baltimore County, Maryland, and the United States very proud."

"It is just extraordinary that Towson has produced Nobel Prize winners and now the greatest Olympian of all time," said Fifth District County Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson.

"Michael Phelps is an exceptional native son of Towson, and Towson is an exceptional community," Marks said. "I think there should be some sort of public tribute to this man and all those who have supported him."

"I think it's totally cool," said District 42 State Sen. Jim Brochin. "He's handled the whole thing with a lot of class. A total class act."

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz issued a statement about Phelps' achievement, "While the entire world was cheering on Michael Phelps ... all of us in Baltimore County take very special pride in all that Michael has accomplished.

"Earning 19 Olympic medals is such an amazing accomplishment that it is actually hard to imagine," Kamenetz said. "Like DiMaggio and Cal, Michael has set a record that may never be broken. We are certainly willing to share this phenomenal young man with his fans across the nation, but in our hearts he will always be Baltimore County's hometown hero. 

"Congratulations Michael. We can't wait to honor you when you return," Kamenetz said.

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