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FORT RITCHIE, MD. >> Mountaintop Heritage Days is returning to the Fort Ritchie area following a one-year absence.

The 2015 event on June 26 and 27, sponsored by M&T Bank, will include craft and food vendors, music, children's events and a well-attended fireworks show.

"We are extremely fortunate to have several great partners working on the 2015 Mountaintop Heritage Days," said Buck Browning, executive director of the Fort Ritchie Community Center. "This event will showcase many of the wonderful things about our region and is a great kickoff to the Fourth of July Holiday."

Events get underway June 26 with a presentation by Guy Stern, a World War II veteran and one of the "Ritchie Boys" credited for playing a major role in obtaining information that helped the Allies defeat the Germans in Europe. Stern learned interrogation techniques and other covert skills at Fort Ritchie in Washington County prior to being deployed to Europe. He has received many awards for his service and will be sharing his experience through the Fort Ritchie Community Center Speaker Series.

"So much of what Mr. Stern and his fellow 'Ritchie Boys' did for our country remained a secret for a very long time and now we have the chance to thank him for his service and to honor him and the importance of Fort Ritchie," Browning said.

Stern will speak from 6 to 8 p.m. June 26 in the Fort Ritchie Community Center, 14421 Lake Royer Drive, Cascade. His visit is part of the George & Christina Griffin Speaker Series that highlights the region's heritage. Tickets to the presentation are $25 a couple and $15 a person, and include refreshments and a drink.

Saturday's events begin at noon and continue into the evening, highlighted by the fireworks show over Lake Royer.

The Williamsport Community Band, as well as local radio stations, will provide music throughout the day and activities for all ages will be offered. The $5 a car entry fee will help provide resources to continue the Mountaintop Heritage Day event and will help fund local scholarships.

For the first time, guests this year may view the firework show from Lakeside Hall, the former Fort Ritchie Officer's Club. Lakeside Hall, located next to Lake Royer, features a deck that provides an up-front view of the fireworks. Tickets for the event at Lakeside Hall are $50 a couple and include catered food, drinks and musical entertainment. Proceeds will support the community center.

For more information, call the community center at (301) 241-5085 or visit online www.thefrcc.org.

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