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With Year of the Woman plans derailed by coronavirus, Mount Airy calling women to gather for aerial photo

Mount Airy, looking north along Main Street, is pictured Thursday, May 7, 2020.
Mount Airy, looking north along Main Street, is pictured Thursday, May 7, 2020. (Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Times)

Although the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted plans for Mount Airy to celebrate and honor the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which extended to women the right to vote, the town will go forward with a historic aerial photoshoot.

The town’s yearlong celebration, Year of the Woman 2020, was kicked off in January after Mount Airy declared it would be recognizing the nationwide movement to commemorate the century-long women’s suffrage movement.

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The town planned to spotlight women from Mount Airy’s history, as well as women who were impacting Mount Airy’s future, according to Mount Airy’s website. According to Wendi Peters, special secretary of smart growth for the Maryland Department of Planning, the celebration was meant to be a collaboration of women-centered institutions and organizations in the community who could come together to empower local women.

“We have a number of extraordinary women in our community, so it’s nice to have the opportunity to, first off, celebrate the actual ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave us the right to vote, and then to recognize the women and the things they have done since 100 years ago,” said Peters, a Mount Airy resident.

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However, many events that had been in the works have been canceled or pushed back as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which first arrived in Carroll in mid-March.

“We had put together a committee of a lot of very eager women who have been involved in business, women involved in education and even women involved in public service, and we had a number of events that we were going to be pursuing,” Peters said. “As a result of everything that happened with [COVID-19], we’ve kind of put them on hold.”

Peters said the committee had planned a “dress for success” fashion show for October in which younger women could pick out clothing from a career closet, a resource that provides women with business attire for job interviews.

“The general feeling is that we should put that on hold right now; there are a lot of considerations, and we really want to be able to kick the event off with a large-capacity crowd, but that isn’t likely any time soon under the current conditions,” Peters said.

Before the pandemic, she said she partnered up with Mount Airy Town Council member Pamela Reed to kick-start the initiative.

Peters is no stranger to Mount Airy, and has a special connection to the town; as the first woman to be elected for a second term on the council in 2008, she had made some history herself.

“As a former councilwoman, and as a member of the community, I thought it was really important to not only take some time and to recognize the ratification,” she said, “but also how the women made a difference in our community over a number of years.”

Although many of the events and get-togethers that were planned throughout 2020 have been canceled or put on hold, Peters and Reed are hopeful that they can safely put on at least one event this year.

According to Reed, Mount Airy women of all ages are encouraged to come out and line Main Street downtown to take an aerial photo. A drone, which is being provided by the Town of Mount Airy, will be flying over the crowd and taking pictures.

The event is scheduled to take place on Aug. 16.

“The road closure is scheduled for 1:30, which is when people can start line Main Street. We would start at Town Hall and fan out north to south from Prospect Street to Hood (Street),” Reed said. “At two o’clock the only thing they have to do is smile and the done will fly over and take a bunch of pictures.”

Reed said the photos will then be displayed at Town Hall with some sort of ceremony.

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“We definitely want to make it a big deal, and we’re hoping that it will actually remain in Town Hall for at least the remainder of the year,” she said.

Peters said the event will be a safe opportunity for the community to get together, with face coverings required and attendees asked to stay 6 feet apart from anyone they didn’t arrive with. She hopes that the photoshoot provides the community the chance to get together.

“We’re going to use social distancing and we’re going to wear our masks,” she said, “but we’re going to get out there and have a really cool opportunity to bring a number of women across the community together and make a big impact.”

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