"When I first came here from western New York a couple of years ago and learned that a community worship service was held at the church on Thanksgiving eve," says the Rev. Charles Acker, "I thought, 'You've got to be kidding -- who would come out on the night before Thanksgiving, with so many people out of town, or relatives visiting, and so many preparations to take care of on the night before a major holiday?' "
Well, about 250 people, enough to fill his church, St. Paul's United Methodist, at 200 Main St. in New Windsor.
The service has become an established New Windsor tradition, one not to be missed, but one that Mr. Acker surmises might be nearly impossible to start today.
"It's a community tradition that's grown and grown," he says.
The New Windsor Lions Club sponsors the event, which began years ago as a small service held after the Lions' Wednesday night supper meeting.
Lions' Club members still hold that Wednesday night meeting and come to the church afterward. Members of the Greater Pipe Creek Ministerial Alliance organize the service.
The first services were held at the New Windsor Brethren Center, but so many participants crowded that building that the service was moved to the middle school. When the event outgrew the middle school, it moved to St. Paul's.
"I'm just fortunate my church has the largest seating capacity," says Mr. Acker.
The service is an ecumenical event, drawing participants from 14 New Windsor area churches, the New Windsor Fire Department, the Sulphur Spring Lions Club, the New Windsor Brethren Center, and local and regional government.
There is lots of singing by many choirs, including a community choir conducted by June Keck and a pastors' choir -- "people love the fact that we get up there and do it," says Mr. Acker.
The ecumenical nature of the service should come as no surprise to people who live in the area and know the local clergy.
"Brethren, Lutheran, Methodist -- we'll all call on you if you're sick," says Mr. Acker. "It doesn't matter what church you go to."
St. Paul's, built in 1897, will be ready for the worship service. Its 97-year-old stained-glass windows should be back in place after being refurbished and strengthened. After years of weight and weather, the windows needed some TLC.
This is a real community event and a solid tradition.
"It's such a good feeling of people joining together from all the denominations," says Mr. Acker.
There will be two community Thanksgiving services. The first service is at Linwood Church of the Brethren at 7 p.m. Sunday, and the one on Thanksgiving eve at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in New Windsor at 7:45 pm.
Another northwest Carroll tradition is the semiannual Taneytown Lions Club breakfast to be held starting at 5 a.m. Saturday at the building on the Taneytown carnival grounds, adjoining Memorial Park.
Lots of dedicated folks have pulled together to make this event happen -- from shopping for the ingredients for enough food to feed up to 600 people, to making and posting publicity signs all over the county, to setting up, cleaning up, and preparing the food.
Club members will be in the kitchen as early as 4 a.m. the day of the event to cook for the hunters and other early birds who will get all they can eat to start the day.
Eggs and pancakes will be cooked to order; sausage is from a local butcher; hominy, pudding, sausage gravy, juice and coffee round out the meal. This event gives new meaning to "a hearty country breakfast."
Whatever you do, arrive hungry.
The Lions, all volunteers, work hard to raise money for local needs, especially vision and hearing projects. In 1925 Helen Keller asked the Lions to become "knights for the blind," and the group has carried out the charge ever since.
The Taneytown Lions support the Maryland Eye Bank (the largest in the world), the Wilmer Eye Institute and the Lions Vision Research Foundation.
What keeps them going?
Men like Ferne Haines and current club President Jim Fair have been involved for years. "It makes us feel good, helping others, and it's a good social opportunity, too,"
says Mr. Fair.
The breakfast is from 5 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Saturday. You'll have to wait until spring for the next breakfast. The cost is $4.50 for adults, $2.25 for kids 6 to 12, and free for the younger ones.
Drive down Honeysuckle Lane in Keymar this week for Elisa Bowman's third annual "Christmas Memories on the Lane." The event started yesterday and continues through Sunday.
Ms. Bowman's shop will feature handcrafts, pottery and floral arrangements for the holidays.
"This year I'll have many wreaths and arrangements in country Christmas designs featuring pomegranates, cinnamon sticks, lemon leaves, apple slices and lotus pods," she says.
Homemade cookies, and coffee and herbal tea will be served, and there will be door prizes daily. Honeysuckle Lane is at 2300 Francis Scott Key Highway.