- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 8, 2000

Mention the term "historical society and museum," and many people think of dusty, drab buildings staffed by bespectacled clerks and catering to nerdy history buffs.
That doesn't describe the Historical Society of Frederick County in the city's historic district. Families who drop by its building on East Church Street, across the street from the visitors center, frequently are handed puzzles for the children. As museum docents lead families through the museum, children can fill in crossword puzzles with museum-related clues and cross off "I Spy" items they find as they go.
"When people come in here, we try to find out what they're interested in and try to tailor our tours to them," says Gail Marie Denny, a volunteer docent at the museum. "And we love to get kids in here. We have two or three games for children, and we try to make the museum a fun time for them."
The museum is just one of several activities and sights of interest for families looking for a day trip out of the metro area. Frederick's historic district is heavy with Civil War-era history, of course, with the Barbara Fritchie House and Mount Olivet Cemetery, where more than 800 Union and Confederate soldiers are buried. The battlefields at Antietam, Gettysburg and Monocacy also are nearby.
But Frederick has more than just Civil War history to attract families. Francis Scott Key, author of "The Star-Spangled Banner," is buried in Frederick. Frederick also serves as a haven for antique hunters, who flock to the town.
In addition to the museum, children also are attracted to the new Community Bridge, formerly the Carroll Street Bridge. In 1998, the city of Frederick finished a five-year mural project under the bridge after soliciting hundreds of opinions from around the city and the world (via the Internet) on the question, "What object or symbol represents the spirit of community to you?"
William M. Cochran, an artist now residing in Frederick, painted the artwork over the concrete, making the finished product look like brickwork with symbols carved into it. Children like to stroll past the 3,000-square-foot mural and try to identify all the objects hidden in it, says Beth Rhoads, an assistant director for the Tourism Council of Frederick County.
"And of course, there's an ice cream shop right across the street to cap it all off," Ms. Rhoads says with a smile.
The historic district and nearby areas have other child-friendly activities, too. Baker Park, a 44-acre facility just east of the district, has free Saturday night concerts and performances for children. The Frederick Keys, a minor-league affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, have frequent fireworks displays and giveaways geared for children.
Next month, the city will host the Great Frederick Fair, a weeklong event (Sept. 15 to 23) with harness racing, concerts, carnivals and plenty of animals on display.

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