Charles said the 220 volunteers filled, packed and loaded about 38,000 luminarias in three hours, "which works out to one luminaria per person per minute."
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The Antietam Memorial Illumination is being held in cooperation with the American Business Women's Association and the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Thomas B. Riford, president and CEO of the CVB, calls the Illumination "a premiere marquee event for our county."
"As the largest memorial illumination in North America and with the significant honors it has been given, the event brings a lot of positive attention for its goal of memorializing those who sacrificed at the Battle of Antietam 150 years ago," he noted. "The luminarias do not have Union or Confederate written on them. They honor all the casualties on both sides equally."
Riford said the anniversary of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 was named a Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association and the listing of events included the Illumination. In the past few years, the Illumination itself has earned the Top 100 designation.
With attention focused on the anniversary, Riford anticipates an increase in the number of visitors. The CVB, for instance, is chartering three motor coaches this year and offering special guided tours of the event. Advance tickets are required and are available from the Visitor Welcome Center near the Public Square in downtown Hagerstown. For more information call 301-791-3246, ext. 10.
Riford said the Memorial Illumination is publicized and advertised outside of the immediate area, including internationally, which results in visitors attending from across the country, as well as Canada.
"Economically, the event is positive for our county," he added. "We see an increase in hotel, B&Bs and campground occupancy; and more business at local restaurants and stores. Anytime 20,000 people or more attend an event there is significant economic impact."
If you go ...
WHAT: 24th annual Antietam Memorial Illumination
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1
WHERE: Antietam National Battlefield,
COST: The event is free but donations are accepted.
MORE: In the event of poor weather, the event will be rescheduled for Saturday, Dec. 8.
Antietam National Battlefield personnel note that drivers should use their vehicles' parking lights only during the tour and continue through the event without stopping. Visitors are prohibited from walking the tour route. Event brochures will be distributed at the entrance, which is Richardson Avenue off Md. 34. A line will form on the westbound shoulder for entrance to the Illumination. Visitors should note that the wait to enter can be up to two hours long.
Charter buses, tour guides available for illumination
The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is chartering three 28-passenger coaches on Saturday, Dec 1, for the 24th annual Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination. Special tour guides for the evening will tell the story of America's bloodiest single-day battle, which happened 150 years ago.
Antietam National Battlefield, in cooperation with the American Business Women's Association and the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, is hosting the annual Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination in honor of those soldiers who fell during the Battle of Antietam.
Tickets for the CVB charter buses are available from the Visitor Welcome Center at 6 N. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown ("City Center" area near Public Square). The cost is $25 for adults and $20 for children younger than 10. The tickets are not refundable, and the chartered buses are not the type classified as handicapped-accessible. Light refreshments will be served at the Welcome Center starting at 5:15 p.m. and the bus will depart promptly at 6 p.m. For more information call 301-791-3246 ext. 10. Organizers stress that the tickets for this year's buses will sell out.
To find out more about Hagerstown-Washington County, go to www.marylandmemories.com.