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Hundreds flock to annual Fourth of July Picnic

By Staff | Jul 12, 2019

Local residents fill up their plates with freshly grilled hotdogs and hamburgers, during the Fourth of July Picnic at Morgan's Grove Park. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — This year’s Fourth of July Picnic at Morgan’s Grove Park showed an upsurge in numbers, with almost 1,000 community members in attendance. While in previous years the picnic has featured an older crowd, this year’s picnic was filled with celebrants of all ages, chowing down on hotdogs, hamburgers, chips ice cream and Italian ice.

Along with the food, provided by the Rotary Club of Shepherdstown and Ranson’s Scoop Dawg Ice Cream, respectively, a variety of family friend events were available at this year’s celebration. Live music played throughout the three-hour event, starting with the Speakeasy Boys and followed by the Gypsy Ramblers. Free children’s activities were also available at the picnic, including a water slide, face painting, water balloon toss, scavenger hunts and a visit from Trego Mountain Sanctuary, which allowed people learn about and touch hawks and owls.

“We come every year,” said Tammi Bonacorda, of Shepherdstown, as she watched her daughter get her face painted in swirling shades of lavender. “It’s so nice coming here and not having to fight traffic, like we would have to do in the big cities. I like it because it’s an opportunity to enjoy our small town, celebrate patriotism and see our neighborhood coming together. And it’s something I want to instill in my three kids.”

According to Gypsy Ramblers violinist Lavinia Reid, her band looks forward to playing for the picnic each year.

“I love to be out with the people and playing our original music,” Reid said. “We love to connect with people, and that’s what music does. I think this is our fourth or fifth time playing this particular festival, and it’s a wonderful event that brings everyone together, as it should be.”

Donna Hill and Walt Retzsch, of Rockville, Md., talk with antique car owner Kevin Carter, of Shepherdstown, at the Fourth of July Picnic at Morgan's Grove Park. Tabitha Johnston

As attendees migrated through the picnic food buffet line, Rotary members hustled to keep the freshly-grilled meat coming.

“We always enjoy doing this for the community — we love cooking for the cookout,” said Rotary member Terry Anderson, as he flipped burgers on the grill. “We planned for 900 to 1,000, and I think we’ll be coming in close to that.”

According to Rotary President Michelle Casuccio, the success of this year’s picnic is the result of the club’s hard work in the community throughout the year.

“We absolutely love being part of the community,” Casuccio said, mentioning the club’s 26 service projects from the past year.

“[The picnic] seems to have a greater mix of the community, with both old timers and new faces. It’s in these times, when we are kind of divided, it is so nice to see everyone come out and have fun,” Casuccio said. “And the burgers are better than ever!”

Seven-year-old Eva Gibbs, of Inwood, pets barn owl Mikey with the help of Trego Mountain Nature Center Director Dina Spanomanolis, during the Fourth of July Picnic at Morgan's Grove Park. Tabitha Johnston

Flyeye Design face painter Jill Harner, of Shepherdstown, paints the face of seven-year-old Ava Bonacorda, during the Fourth of July Picnic at Morgan's Grove Park. Tabitha Johnston

Children splashed down the water slide at this year's Fourth of July Picnic at Morgan's Grove Park. The Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department once again loaned a fire truck to supply the water for the slide. Tabitha Johnston