From Hagerstown Herald-Mail (July 3).....
Security increased for Fourth celebration
The National Park Service will be beefing up patrols and inspecting
unattended bags to ensure the safety of the 20,000 to 30,000 people
expected to crowd Antietam National Battlefield for Saturday's Salute
to Independence fireworks display.
The precautions are a response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and
the continuing threat of terrorism, Chief Ranger Ed Wenschhof said.
"We want people to feel safe at the concert, and we've made changes
that they may or may not notice," he said.
The park service will be searching all suspicious or unattended bags
at the park on Md. 65, Wenschhof said. The park service is
encouraging attendees to bring their belongings into the park no
earlier than 2 p.m. The fireworks begin at 9:45 p.m.
The number of entrances also will be limited and people will be
channeled through the main seating area to give security staff a
better view of those attending the concert, Wenschhof said.
About 100 National Park Service, Washington County Sheriff's deputies
and local volunteer groups will be patrolling the park on foot, on
bicycles and in vehicles, Wenschhof said. Last year, the park used a
security staff of 70 people, he said.
In recent years, the security staff has made arrests for assault and
illegal sales and had a minor domestic incident during the fireworks
celebration, Wenschhof said.
As in previous years, planes from the 167th Airlift Wing of the West
Virginia Air National Guard from Martinsburg, W.Va., will make passes
over the battlefield for the celebration, according to a pilot, Capt.
Chris Sigler. "We told ourselves if we have the manpower, we'd still
do it. As it turned out, there was enough people interested," Sigler
The event is special to the pilots, and he's proud to be one of the
soldiers who will be piloting the C-130 that will make two passes
over the battlefield at 7 p.m., Sigler said. During the first pass,
the plane will speed by at 150 mph. For the second pass, the plane
will gain speed and be going 250 mph, Sigler said.
This year's fireworks celebration will be without the crowd-pleasing
artillery guns that have accompanied Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture,"
played by the Maryland Symphony Orchestra. The Maryland National
Guard's Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 110th Field Artillery was activated
to support the war on terrorism.
Wenschhof said he believes that the park crowd will live up to
expectations on Saturday based on the attendance he's seen at other
events in the Tri-State area. People are realizing that they need to
live their lives despite the terrorism in the world, he said.
Wenschhof said he's seen the concert and fireworks 11 times and is
still moved by their beauty. "I'll miss the artillery though," he
POSTED BY: Tom Shay