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by Judith Hruz
The return of Olney Days after the coronavirus pandemic forced the beloved event to remain under wraps the two previous years was a resounding success, organizers say – so much so that even rain falling as the parade wound its way down Georgia Avenue could not dampen the enthusiasm for the weekend.
“I couldn’t have been more delighted with this year’s Olney Days,” said Helene Rosenheim, a member of the Olney Civic Fund Board of Directors. “It was very clear by the record turnouts at all of our events that our friends and neighbors were ready to get together and have a good time after this long COVID break.”
She added, “This event builds memories that participants, as well as our organizers and volunteers, will talk about for years to come. We hope all those who attended will smile when they think back on the weekend.”
More than 100 adult volunteers and 200 student volunteers helped plan and run eight different events over three days April 29 to May 1.
On Friday night — the first night of the three-day event — Olney Boys and Girls Club’s Flix @ The Fields featured “Spider-Man: No Way Home” on a big outdoor screen.
“We were excited to welcome over 1,500 people back to the park,” said Brad Scott, executive director of Olney Boys and Girls Club (OBGC). “It was a great way to kick off Olney Days.”
Saturday morning the Olney community joined together for a final Joe’s Ride: Remembering Olney’s Kids to show love and compassion to neighbors and friends who have lost a child.
Over 350 participants stood silently while the names of children who have passed away were read.
Joe’s Ride again demonstrated to all that “love never dies.”
The Sanford family said, “Thank you to the committee members, sponsors, volunteers and participants of Joe’s Ride who worked tirelessly to make this event the success that is was.”
The Paper Shred, which started over 10 years ago, shredded over 11,000 pounds of paper this year.
Choose 2 Reuse joined the shred this year, collecting over 1,300 pounds of clothing and household donations.
“Cars were in line for the shred/recycling event more than 15 minutes before it was to start at noon, and the cars just kept coming,” Rosenheim said.
The weather was perfect for Party in the Park on Saturday afternoon, said Barbara Falcigno, one of the Olney Days coordinators.
“We had a record turnout with over 6,300 people attending — yes, we counted. Most importantly, we promise to have more food trucks next year,” she said.
The long lines didn’t seem to bother everyone, organizers said.
“I stood in line for an hour for ice cream and I would do it again,” said Bobby Johnson of Emory Church Road.
There are always challenges with large events like this, organizers said. This year the stage did not get delivered, but Dave Johnson was able to put together something that could be used as a stage just hours before the first band was to play.
Parking was “vastly improved” over previous years with the help of Boy Scout of America Troop 457, Falcigno said.
Early Sunday morning, the community clean-up started at Olney Manor Park. Groups spread throughout the community and cleaned up several wooded areas. With the help of Green Olney, compost bins were available and volunteers showed people what to put into each container, such as compost, recycling material or trash.
The rain held off long enough for the Fletchers to hold the annual Car and Truck Show later on Sunday morning, but the afternoon parade wasn’t so lucky.
At the time the Olney Civic Fund had to decide whether to hold the parade, the forecast showed rain coming later in the day. Organizers felt it was worth moving ahead with the parade since so many organizers and groups worked hard to prepare for the event.
Parade coordinator Kathy Curtis noted, “While the 2022 parade will live in memory as one of the soggiest parades ever, I’ve gotten so many upbeat messages from those in the parade, and they reminded me what a special place Olney is and how happy I am to call it home.”
One of the parade judges, Tom Farquhar, admitted, “I can hardly believe I had so much fun standing in the rain for an hour.”
Local businesses played a big part in the success of the event, organizers said.
Falcigno, who also chairs the Fundraising Committee, said that admission to all Olney Day events is free and the funding to cover the $35,000 cost of the weekend comes from the business community.
Fletcher’s Service Center, Graeves Auto and Tire, and Medstar Health are perennial Platinum sponsors.
Olney Civic Fund can also count on Giant Foods, Minahan Orthodontics, The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring and GOCA as Gold sponsors. Several new companies joined the Gold group: Fitzgerald Toyota in Gaithersburg, Fair Hill Shops, Kendall Capital and Cadence Living at Olney.
Montgomery Parks partners with Olney Civic Fund and without its support, Party in the Park would not be what it is, organizers said.
Sandy Spring Bank, The Scientific Consulting Group, and Martin’s Sedan & Limousine Service provide Gold-level in-kind services.
“Together with our Silver sponsors and individual donations, we are able to cover all the expenses and even have some left to grant out to non-profits serving the Olney community,” Falcigno said.
Art Brodsky, chair of the Olney Civic Fund, said, “As a nonprofit organization, we depend on the generosity of businesses and community members to fund Olney Days activities and to provide support for our grants to organizations serving the Olney community.”
“Olney Days is all about celebrating community spirit,” said Terri Hogan, executive director of the Olney Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a wonderful tradition that allows us all to come together to foster that sense of community and all the reasons why Olney is a great place to live and work.”
As for Olney Days 2023, Rosenheim said, “We’re already thinking of how we can improve things next year and benefit from our lessons learned.”
2022 Olney Days Parade Winners
Best of Parade — St. John’s Episcopal School & Jazz Band
Best Animal Unit — “Hershey,” mascot of Tom DeGonia’s campaign for state’s attorney
Classic Cars Unit — 1965 Shelby Cobra, first; 1957 Red Thunderbird, second; and 1967 Chevelle, third.
Float Unit — Boy Scout Troop 759, first; Kang’s Black Belt Academy, second; and Oakdale Church, third.
Marching Unit — Refuge Church, first; Norman Price American Legion Post 68, second; and Sandy Spring Slave Museum & African Art Gallery, third.
Motorized Unit — Corvette Club of America, first; For 3 Sisters, second; and Almas Shriners, third.
Performing Unit — Dancin’4 Ever, first; Olney Studio of Dance, second; and Sherwood Marching Band, third.
Youth Unit — Cub Scout Pack 434, first; Magruder High School JROTC, second; and Girl Scout Service Unit 31-2: Troops 2842, 31027, 31046, 31047, 31048, 31064 and 31079, third.
OCF is a local, non-profit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of Olney charitable, educational, civic and cultural activities and supporting local charitable projects and civic events such as Olney Days. Learn more at www.OlneyCivicFund.org, on Facebook and Twitter @OlneyCivicFund, on Instagram @OlneyDays and #OlneyDays.
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