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Published: Sunday, 9/16/2001 - Updated: 2 years ago

2 festivals offer respite from week of grieving

Alex Jewell gets the feel of an antique 1930s tractor at the Wood County Day festival. Alex Jewell gets the feel of an antique 1930s tractor at the Wood County Day festival.

American flags flew from vendor booths, vehicles, and small hands yesterday, as people tore themselves away from television and rallied around community events.

Kim Reynolds, an American Airlines flight attendant, feels pressure from her family to quit the job she has had for 15 years. The Perrysburg woman is based in Chicago.

“I'm torn,” Ms. Reynolds said at Harrison Rally Days. “There's a side of me that needs to go to work, and another side that's scared.”

Ms. Reynolds wore an “American and Proud” sweatshirt and carried a small red football thrown out during the parade.

Two months ago, she flew with pilot Charles “Chick” Burlingame, whose plane hit the Pentagon, killing about 190 people. She remembers him because of his unusual nickname.

“I have a 4-year-old daughter [Taylor] and I wanted to bring her down here,” Ms. Reynolds said. “It's really great to see everybody get together with the red, white, and blue. I had tears in my eyes when the band started [playing George M. Cohan's ‘You're a Grand Old Flag'].

The Perrysburg High School band played during the parade along a route lined with people waving small American flags. The band had been scheduled to play during the Ohio State University football game against San Diego State, but the game was postponed because of the attacks in New York City and Washington.

Perrysburg Mayor Jody Holbrook, a Marine from 1962 to 1966, decided against canceling the rally because “it's time for healing and going forward ... Spirits are being lifted up and we have a lot of pride and history in our city.”

The Harrison Rally celebration is named for the rally held during the 1840 presidential campaign by the Whigs for their candidate, William Henry Harrison, at Fort Meigs, the site of one of his military victories.

Claudine Mogg, who wore red pants and a top with an American flag decoration, took her German shepherd, Sultan, for the Harrison Days festivities.

“I'm here because of the parade,” Mrs. Mogg said. “I always feel better when I see them, but especially now with these events.”

Mrs. Mogg, a native of France who became an American citizen in 1976, normally wears the outfit on the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and other special occasions.

It was a similar, but less populated, scene in Bowling Green as hundreds gathered to celebrate the 17th annual Wood County Day and the first Pork-A-Lean Festival on the grounds of the Wood County Historical Center.

The event had an antique tractor display, vendors, and agricultural demonstrations.

“We thought people would want to come out and take a break from the bad news because that's all we've been getting,” said Brett Bossard, education director for the historical society. There was discussion with county commissioners about canceling, but it was decided the event would allow the community to “show its strength,” Mr. Bossard said.

Other than a steam-powered well-driller and an oil pump, a popular place was the face-painting table. Several people had American flags painted on their cheeks.

“We are all suffering during this time,” said Linda Firsdon of Pemberville, who was one of the first adults to get an American flag painting.

She got a tremendous response.

“They were saying it looks great and they just smile,” Mrs. Firsdon said. “There's just a bond going on in the country.”

For children, the flags were running second to skulls and cross bones.

“Most adults don't get their faces painted,” said Kristen Wethington, 28, of Bowling Green, a face painter. “It's kind of nice to get away from the news and do something fun and happy.”

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