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Cimino: Reflecting on recent community events

I've been thinking about … odds and ends.

The weather couldn't have been more perfect last weekend for Fallfest. Actually, I can't remember a year when at least one day of the event wasn't rained on. The parade was perfect, with the Westminster Municipal Band leading off as usual. This year we were delighted to have the Westminster, Francis Scott Key and Winters Mill high school bands in the parade. These musical organizations are a credit to Carroll County Public Schools, the students and their parents who encourage them. Tom Canon and I had a great time narrating the parade, and he tells me that the Fallfest parade is the most frequently watched program on public access TV.

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The layout of Fallfest was different this year, with all the rides on the paved parking lot and the food vendors, nonprofits, and commercial vendors in the park. There were a few complaints, but most people thought the change was a good one. The Corn Hole Tournament was a big hit, with more than 30 teams participating and many people enjoying the roller skating rink. The little blue train down from Pennsylvania was a big hit. My favorite day was Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., when more than 600 special-needs students from local agencies and CCPS made their way through Fallfest. I have never seen so many smiles and hugs in my life. The Fallfest Board provided lunch for them and a good time was had by all.

Fallfest is a wonderful opportunity for local charities to earn operating funds and educate the public about their services. The Fallfest charities this year were Kiwanis Club of Westminster, the Westminster Lions Club, Carroll County Therapeutic Recreation, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Westminster Rescue Mission.

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On Saturday, Sept. 24, St. John Catholic Community held what it hopes will be an annual event, a Blue Mass. It is the brainchild of the new pastor, Brian S. Bialek, and it was executed beautifully by Teresa Richardson. The idea is to show honor and respect to all of our first-responders, past and present, for their service to us all in Carroll County. The Mass was very well attended by the public, and many members of our local sheriff's, police and fire departments were in attendance. Sheriff Jim DeWees spoke to the congregation on behalf of the first-responders. The Knights of Columbus, in full regalia, and the adult choir added to the solemnity and beauty of the event. We all got a chance to thank the attending honorees at the reception after the Mass in the Portico.

This past weekend, all the Rotary Clubs in Carroll County got together and pulled off a two-day event at the Shipley Arena: Oktoberfest. I'm told there were 3,000 people there on Saturday. Sometimes the rain is good for an event. I attended on Sunday and enjoyed the music and some excellent bratwurst and German potato salad. I even got in a little early Christmas shopping and brought home some sour beef and dumplings for Joe. The Community Foundation sponsored the Children's Court this year. We were happy to have a number of youngsters helping with that task and earning community service hours for their effort. Oktoberfest is one more example of the countless ways all Carroll County's service organizations support this extraordinary community.

Audrey Cimino is executive director of The Community Foundation of Carroll County. She writes from Westminster.

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