Howard Magazine - Page 50 - Symphony Stores

Howard Magazine
- Page 50
Symphony Stores

was time to show,” said Broccolino, president of the hospital from 1990 to 2014. “Howard County Fire and Rescue was called, but the father delivered the child.”


The trio was whisked to Howard County General, less than a mile away, where for two days they were treated “like royalty,” Broccolino said. “We gave them rooms, flowers and nice meals. We put on the dog for them.”


What became of the family is not known; hospital representatives cannot locate their records.


Reindeer raucous


More than 20 years ago, to help the event gain traction, organizers held a contest in which first prize was a private, reindeer-driven sleigh ride through the Symphony of Lights.


“The winners jumped in the sled, expecting a nice, calm ride,” Broccolino said. “Along the way, the deer got spooked and charged up a hill, dragging the sled, and got all tangled up in the lights.” No one was hurt, including the reindeer.


Burning bright


As the beat-up Chrysler minivan entered the one-mile course, organizers winced.


“The car was rattling and humming so loud that we didn’t think it would make it through,” said Brad Canfield, Merriweather Post Pavilion’s vice-president of operations, who oversees the show. “We probably should have told the four guys inside that their car wasn’t road-worthy.”


It wasn’t.


“Halfway through, near the toy soldiers, the thing went up in flames,” Canfield said. “Fortunately, we’d assigned a staff member to follow it and he called the fire department. We cleared a path for them, but the fire engines made their own way and crashed through a bunch of displays.


“The guys from the car took a cab and left. The next morning, a tow truck took the burned-out wreck. That was 15 years ago; it hasn’t happened since.”


Snowing cash


Seldom has weather interrupted the show. “There can be three or four inches of snow on the ground, and still all of these four-wheel-drive vehicles come through,” Canfield said. “On 20-degree nights, I’ve seen families drive up in convertibles, with blankets on and the heat cranked up, drinking coffee and hot chocolate.”


One night, years ago, Mother Nature turned prankster. Volunteers at the ticket booth had collected more than $1,000 ($20-$25 per car, cash only), stacked neatly by the entrance, when calamity struck.


“A snow squall came through and blew the money into Symphony Woods,” Broccolino said. “Half of the staff went scrambling after the cash in the dark. The next day, a team of 10 to 15 people were scouring the woods, looking for bills.”


Some of the dough may be out there still.