THERE'S NOTHING like the sound of a marching band to lift one's spirits on a cool autumn night.
Starting at 6 p.m. Oct. 2, you can hear the Francis Scott Key High School marching band and nine others march to rousing tunes as they compete at the athletic field at Francis Scott Key High School. Tickets cost $5 for adults and $3 for students.
Francis Scott Key's instrumental music boosters -- parents who support the band by raising money and sponsoring events such as the festival -- are enthusiastic about the competition.
The stadium lights are back in working order, so this year's event can be held at night. Parking lots have been renovated for easy access.
Key parents are quick to point out that they play host to the county's oldest marching band competition. The October event is the 21st for the school.
The purpose of the event is to showcase the skill, musicianship and dedication of a marching band unit.
"It's the varsity sport of music," said Paula Sandridge, a Key booster coordinating the event.
"The kids have to run, carry an instrument, play the music and coordinate it all.
"Anyone who hasn't seen a marching band competition is in for a treat," she said.
This year, bands from Maryland and Pennsylvania will compete for first- , second- and third-place trophies. Bands compete against others of similar size.
The smallest bands, like Key's, have up to 50 members. Bands from Parkville and Gettysburg, Pa., will have more than 150 musicians. Groups will be judged on music, marching, drum major, auxiliary and percussion.
The Key boosters will offer food for the evening. Anne and Weldon Clinton are coordinating the effort that will include chili dogs, shrimp baskets, french fries and other snacks.
Other parents involved in the showcase, which has been in the planning stages since spring, include Nancy Rogers, Debbi Henning, Nancy Wagner, Terry Manner, Jack Wagner, Debra and Cal Richards, Norris Sandridge, and Dave Rogers.
Joyce Watkins is drum major for the band, and Charles Berry is director of instrumental music at the school.
The effort involved in sponsoring a showcase of bands, and the need to constantly raise money for the instrumental music department, is part of the reason for the boosters club.
"The kids get so much out of being in the band," said Sandridge. "They really become a family. And parents get to know the kids. It's a lot of fun."
As for the showcase, she said, "We should have a really good show."
Fire prevention queen
We see them sitting on the top of fire engines, waving to the crowd, at the firefighters' carnival parades.
They're Carroll's fire prevention queens, the county youth who know a lot about fire prevention and want to share their knowledge.
This year's Miss New Windsor Fire Prevention queen will be selected at 2 p.m. Sunday at New Windsor Fire Hall. Contestants, ranging in age from 16 to 21, include Becky Arnold, Christina Clarius and Shannon Safley.
To encourage younger girls to get involved in the fire prevention program, the Fire Department has opened a category for girls ages 4 to 8.
Those contestants are Brittany Brown, Abbie Holmer, Logan Rockwood, Jessica Shipley and Melissa Williams.
The winner of the Miss New Windsor contest will compete in the all-county competition in November and, if she wins, will advance to the all-state competition in Ocean City.
The honor will fall to the girl who wins the competition in the categories of general appearance, presentation, speaking ability, poise and fire safety knowledge.
Judges for the event include Joan Cumberland, president of the Westminster Ladies Auxiliary; Bob Alexander, past president of the Carroll County Firemen's Association; and Les Douglas, school supervisor of buses in Howard County.
Winning gives the girls a chance to go into the community and discuss fire prevention in schools, nursing homes, and other sites.
Says contestant Becky Arnold: "I want to lend a hand in making the community a safer place."
Information: Dorothy Rue, 410-775-7402.
Buy a memento
Ways to raise money for worthy causes are plentiful. One personal favorite is the keepsake or memento, which allows purchasers to help a good cause and get something for their efforts.
Models of Taneytown Elementary School are for sale by the school's PTO. The 11-inch-long wood block is $7. The front depicts the school. The back includes a history of the school and how it has changed over the years.
It's a great stocking stuffer for Taneytown Elementary School alumni.
It's time to celebrate the harvests and rites of fall, and one to look forward to is the buffet breakfast held from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. Oct. 2 at Tom's Creek United Methodist Church.
Orders will be taken for fresh sausage and pork chops.
Tom's Creek United Methodist is on Tom's Creek Road, off Route 140 between Taneytown and Emmitsburg.
Judy Reilly's Northwest neighborhood column appears each Thursday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.
Pub Date: 9/23/99