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Shepherdstown brings in the May

By Staff | Apr 22, 2016

Throughout the world on the first of May, people celebrate the coming of summer with revelry to wake up the earth from it’s winter slumber and induce it to fertility by singing, dancing, waving ribbons or hankies, clashing sticks, carrying wands or garlands of green and the ringing of bells.

In Shepherdstown, the May will be celebrated on Saturday, April 30 with activities originating from some of the traditional British May customs. All are invited to celebrate with music, dancing and such revelry as will occur.

May Day will start at around 8 a.m. on the lawn of McMurran Hall on German Street where the maypole will be set up after the sun rises. Those who are curious can watch for the revelry about town, as dancers from far and wide gather and get ready for the noonday celebration. There will be Morris dancing on King Street next to McMurran Hall from 10 a.m.

The parade down German Street begins at noon, line up for the parade is at 11:30 a.m. on Church Street. Musicians, dancers, actors, poets, maidens dressed in spring attire and merry revelers of all sorts are invited to participate. Be part of the magic as the town welcomes the spring with this beautiful annual celebration.

All are encouraged to take part in the parade. Mothers and daughters are encouraged to parade together in colorful spring finery.

Floats, decorated strollers, wagons or bicycles are also welcome. Civic groups can display festive banners, craftsmen and farmers carry their tools, any who wish can bring boughs of green or young saplings and be part of the “walking forest!” Join with musicians, Morris dancers and merry revelers as they play the traditional tune, “Winster Processional” and the Morris dancers dance down the street with sticks, garlands, swords, bells and waving hankies.

Maypoles, wands, costumes, and garlands of greenery and flowers are highly recommended for all participants.

The parade starts down German Street at 12 noon and proceeds to the 22-foot tall maypole which has been erected on the McMurran Hall Lawn. There will be a short ceremony featuring music, dance and pageantry, culminating in the dance which wraps the maypole. Performers include the Shepherdstown Morris Minors, Ladies in White, guest Morris dance teams Foggy Bottom Morris Men and Rock Creek Morris Women from Washington, D.C., Arlington Northwest Clog Dancers from Arlington, Virginia and the local Morris dance group, Shepherdstown Border Morris.

There will be appearances by local dignitaries, the Green Man, the Padstow Hobby horse and other mystical creatures. On-going Morris dance will happen throughout the afternoon, including a performance on King Street again at around 3 p.m., which will feature show dances by each of the visiting Morris dance groups hosted by the home team.

For more information see the Shepherdstown Music and Dance web page at www.smad.us or call Joanie Blanton at (304) 263-2531 or email updf@earthlink.net.