(10/22) Thurmont Trolley Trail -- old and new -- at left is the old trolley that traveled from Thurmont to Frederick until 1954; alongside is the refurbished walking/biking trail, a project undertaken by the Lions.
Since 1929, the Thurmont Lions Club has continued a strong tradition of community service. This year, they'll pause to mark their 80th milestone before continuing with their busy agenda of community projects.
"The Thurmont Lions have responded to many local hardship cases, conducted several major community projects and developed several new fundraisers, all making the community more aware of what the Lions Club does for the community," said Shirley Long, Thurmont Lions club public relations chairwoman. "It then becomes reciprocal -- the community
supports the Lions Club, and the Lions Club, in turn, can support the community even more -- a great partnership."
Celebration on Friday
The Lions will celebrate Friday at the Cozy Restaurant starting at 6:30 p.m. with a social time, followed by dinner and a keynote by Ted Fusco, a representative of Lions Club International. Awards will also be presented.
Lions from clubs throughout District 22W, from Carroll County west, will attend the celebratory event.
At the last regular meeting before the event, Lions members walked through the history of the club. The club normally meets the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at the Cozy, which began its existence the same year as the Lions.
Long has been a member of the club for 15 years, and her husband, Gene, is a 23-year member. She said during her tenure as a Lion, the club has become more visible in the community.
She was the first woman to be a member of the club, joining in 1994, but membership was open to women long before that.
Some members have been in the club 40 years or more, with the member logging the most membership years clocking in at 53 years.
The club has 77 members, including 45 men, 32 women and 12 couples.
"The club has become much stronger via a healthy mix of our longtime, seasoned members and our newer, younger members -- a great way to build upon the legacy left to us by our founding Lions members 80 years ago," Long said.
"We are growing, and I'm proud to say that," said Thurmont Lions Club President George Bolling. Five new members have come on board since July, with at least a dozen or so new members expected to join before summer.
Clubs in the schools
Both Long and Bolling pointed out that this year's celebration is threefold. Not only are the Lions celebrating 80 years, they are also giving a nod to younger members with the first anniversary of the Thurmont Middle School Leo club and the formation of the Catoctin High School Leo club.
The middle school program is 31 members strong, with more students lining up to join, Bolling said. The group completed smaller projects on their own and also pitch in to help with projects done by the Lions organization.
Leo stands for leadership, experience and opportunity with a focus on public service, he said.
"The Thurmont Lions Club has always been a strong, community-oriented organization," Bolling said.
Community service is what defines the Lions. Many projects have been ongoing, Long said.
The Thurmont group has sponsored Boy Scout Troop 270 for many years and has hosted a town Easter egg hunt for decades.
"It's a big deal every year on Easter Sunday," Long said.
Other ongoing projects include a health fair and preschool vision screening, held to catch preventable vision problems early.
"That's been a passion for our club the past several years," he said.
A recent project taken on by the club is refurbishing the old trolley trail through the town. What was an eyesore is now a hiking and biking trail, Long said.
Picnic tables, benches and trash receptacles were added, and in June, club members held the First Annual ART Festival (Art Revealed along the Trail), which featured art displayed along the trail.
"There's always something going on," he said.
The Thurmont Lions are especially excited about their upcoming project, which takes place a day after the anniversary celebration.
"I can't think of anything we've done since I've been a Lion that's going to match this," Long said.
Bolling said some other meaningful projects the Lions have done include supporting a Thurmont resident who needed a special van and helping to pay bills for another resident with two forms of cancer.
"We have a wonderful group of members. We all jump in and participate and help," Bolling said. "It's a wonderful experience to be a Thurmont Lion."