Heritage Day brings town together

Freddy Roberts and Audrey Fisher


Photo by Audrey Fisher

Children and adults alike line Main Street in Middletown as they await the start of the Heritage Day Parade. Heritage Day, held Sept. 24 this year, is an annual fall tradition in the town.

By Lucy Kiefert, Round Table entertainment editor

It is Saturday, Sept. 24. Today is the day the 32nd annual Middletown Heritage Day Festival will take place.

For many who don’t live in or around the exclusive and close-knit community, Heritage Day may seem like just another day to celebrate the history of a small town that, in the grand scheme of things, seems insignificant, another day to promote local businesses and organizations that would not be mentioned or spoken of otherwise, but not for the people of Middletown.

It is just shy of 10 a.m. and adults and children alike are already lined up, three people deep, on the sidewalk of Main Street. They are instructed to remain behind the white line painted on the road that the parade floats will drive down, but that rule is broken more than once. The announcer who can be heard over the multiple speakers asks them to stay back yet again.

The time approaches slowly, and the anticipation continues to build in the air. The people of Middletown squirm in their lawn chairs, moving back and forth from left to right as they wait for the first float to begin its trek and inevitably pass them.

A few minutes later than previously promised (but that is to be expected), the announcer asks the crowd if it is ready for a parade. The people cheer and clap enthusiastically in response.

Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, led by a few officers from the sheriff’s department, are the first to kick off the parade. The Middletown Volunteer Fire Department and Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner are not too far behind them. The parade includes floats and reserved spaces for important local organizations and leaders. There also are also performances from the likes of Middletown Valley Young at Heart Seniors Fitness, Splits Parkour and the Middletown High School Marching Knights alongside the dance line.

The parade lasts for two hours. When the last float finally idles by, the crowd disperses and musicians begin to play on the stage set up on the front lawn of More Ice Cream. At this time, festivalgoers will have the chance to visit vendors of all kinds camped up and down Main Street as well as watch the scheduled performances that will take place around 4 p.m.

Driving through Middletown hours after the festival has ended and the crowd has gone home, an eerie feeling sets in. The town is completely desolate, more so than usual. One cannot help but notice the drastic change that has taken place in such a short period of time.

Not long ago these quaint, homely streets were flooded with energy. Now, they are empty. The only evidence Heritage Day ever happened are the discarded water bottles and ice cream cups littering the lawns of Main Street businesses.

Despite how quickly the town square cleared out, it has been proven year after year just how passionate Middletown inhabitants are about their beginnings and roots. The Heritage Day Festival continues to bring a large crowd and an extensive amount of participants every time it rolls around.

The town square is vacant and the roads are abandoned. Until next year.