From Michael Blum, Chairman, Bel Air Christmas Celebration 2014:
To the Editor:
On behalf of the Town of Bel Air and the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, I would like to thank the citizens of greater Bel Air for their attendance and enthusiasm at yesterday’s (Sunday, December 7) Bel Air Christmas Parade and Celebration.
It was a marvelous event, and I have to credit the weather — it was chilly, yes, but the sun shone in a clear blue sky from dawn to sunset, and after all the days of rain we had, I think everybody welcomed the opportunity to be outside in the light, at last! The warmth of the smiles and the spirit of the participants and the crowd more than made up for the chilliness of the day (this IS December, after all!).
I walked the route just behind the end of the parade and was particularly pleased to see so many children (and even pets!) enjoying the sights and sounds. The joy on the faces of the kids and families made me very, very happy, and I think reflected the values of our community and the love we all have for this season. Bel Air is indeed a wonderful, family-friendly place, and it’s events like this that make that clearly apparent to all.
Special thanks must go to the many hard-working volunteers who put the entire celebration together, especially including our parade marshals Jennifer Mainster-Hanna, Aaron Cahall, Alex Krowzow, Patti Pearce, David Williams, Angela Robertson and Trish Heidenreich, and a very hard-working group of wonderful students from Bel Air High School, members of the National Honor Society: Katie Allison, Nicole Carpenter, Kesi Coker, Daniel Hopkins, MJ Krchnavy, Anna Linscott, Matt Robertson, Bryce Robertson and Carolyn Todd. These students showed their intelligence and leadership abilities as they did a fantastic job coping with our VERY chaotic and stressful staging area! It takes a lot of people to keep such a parade in order, and all these volunteers worked beautifully together.
The sponsor banners were carried by members of Cub Scout Pack 777, based at Bel Air United Methodist Church, and led by Hope Yamagata. Dina Boebel and Trish Heidenreich decorated the Reviewing Stand.
I also need to thank the hard-working members of the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, led by Executive Director Christine McPherson and Promotions Director Roman Davidyuk, who managed and prepared matters in Shamrock Park, where scads of folks enjoyed music, hot chocolate and cookies!
I also thank the Town of Bel Air administration, led by Town Administrator James Fielder, for its support, and especially Director of Economic Development Trish Heidenreich and staff members Angela Robertson and Sandy Saunders. Thanks also to Director of Administration Michael Krantz and Director of Public Works Steve Kline and his hard-working crew, led by Mike Cornett, who seemed to be everywhere when anything was needed, with exactly the right tools.
The celebration of course was supported by Town of Bel Air Commissioners Robert Reier, Susan Burdette, Edward Hopkins, Robert Preston and Patrick Richards, who marched in the parade (some with their dogs!). Candy canes were given out Dina Boebel and her family of Elves.
The entire celebration could not have been done without the unflinching support and assistance of the Town of Bel Air Police Department, and especially Acting Police Chief Jack Meckley and Deputy Chief Rick Peschek.
Judges Angela Eaves, Beth Bowen, Yolanda Curtin, Susan Hazlett and Mimi Cooper, assisted by Trish Heidenreich, presided at the Reviewing Stand, where Tracy Hart from WAMD-AM did a wonderful job narrating the proceedings. The fabulous early entertainment was provided by the Route 66 Band, whose spirited and upbeat music really made Main Street into a “Winter Carnival”!
Participants in the Parade included (in alphabetical order): America in Miniature; APG/Edgewood 20th CBRNE Command Color Guard and contingent; Applause of Bel Air; BARTELS TOWING; BATMAN + CATWOMAN; Bel Air Police Chief Jack Meckley; the BEL AIR TOWN COMMISSIONERS; Belcamp Cheerleaders; the Boebel Family Candy-Cane Elves; Boy Scouts Troop 777; Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County; Brownie Troop 5277; Brownie Troop 5953 & Daisy Troop 250; Buontempo Brothers/Tower Restaurant; Chuck E Cheese & Helen Henny; Cub Scout Pack 830; Daisy Troop #2357; Forest Hill Nursery School; Frosty the Snowman; PRINCESS ELSA, PRINCESS ANNA and OLAF; Girl Scout Troop 1827; Girl Scout Troop 5954; Girl Scout Junior Troop #5960; Girl Scouts of Central MD Service Unit 678 and Troops 1842, 4225, 4227, 4228, 1153, 2706, 992, 5290 and 1192 (with some others, too, I think); the Grinch; the Harford County Fire Prevention Ambassadors: Little Miss Fire Prevention Charlotte Denbow, Little Fire Chief Andrew Deckard, Junior Miss Fire Prevention Mariah Maines and Miss Fire Prevention Jessica Holden; Hoppin Hawks Jump Rope Club; the HUMANE SOCIETY OF HARFORD COUNTY; the Kinetic Youth Academy; KUNG-FU PANDA; the Level Majorettes; the Living Christmas Tree; McGRUFF THE CRIME DOG; MD State Fireman’s Assoc Miss Fire Prev 2014-2015 STACEY HOLDEN; the Minion; Miss Bel Air 2014 Cynthia Ford; Miss Harford-Cecil Fire Prevention Danielle Brown; Miss Maryland 2014 Jade Kenny; Miss Maryland’s Outstanding Teen Sara Robinson; Poe’s-mobile; PRINCESS PEACH; RelIcoustics Band; Releve Dance / TwirlTasTix Baton Corps; Ripken Baseball / Aberdeen Ironbirds; Ryan-Kilcoyne School of Irish Dance; Santa & Mrs. Santa with Benchfield Farms Carriage; the Society of Italian-American Businessmen; Step 2 It Dance Academy; SUPER MARIO; the Nutcrackers Sweet; Upper Cross Roads Baptist Church; and WE-CAN-SERVE.
Local High School Marching Bands were from Bel Air High School, C. Milton Wright High School, Fallston High School, John Carroll School, Patterson Mill High School, Edgewood High School and Joppatowne High School.
The judges determined the following awards for the procession: 1st Place (for the second straight year!): Cub Scout Troop 830, whose float portrayed the scene at the North Pole; 2nd Place: the C. Milton Wright Marching Mustang Band; 3rd Place: the Upper Cross Roads Baptist Church Nativity Scene Float. Honorable Mentions go to the Society of Italian-American Businessmen and to the Edgewood High School Marching Band.
At Shamrock Park, after the parade, Jim McMahan was the perfect Master of Ceremonies, leading the crowd in Christmas Carols, accompanied by a wonderful performance by the Bel Air Community Band, led by Scott Sharnetzka. Free hot chocolate courtesy of Coffee Coffee and cookies were given to everyone. The bonfire was managed and stoked by Jay Van Deusen. At 5 pm, there was the traditional tree lighting, created by the Town of Bel Air Public Works Department.
The celebration could not have been produced without the financial support of many local businesses. Band Sponsors were BCV Realty, Corbin Fuel, Harford Mutual Insurance Company, Jones Junction, Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland, Peoples Bank and the Tower Restaurant/Buontempo Brothers. Howard Bank sponsored Miss Maryland and Miss Maryland’s Outstanding Teen.
Other business sponsors included Barely Used Consignment on Main Street, Circa Ltd., Exploration Art School, Point Breeze Credit Union, Tiny Toes and Towne Barbers. Cook Automotive donated the use of a truck and a car at literally the last minute, to transport some of our notables, for which we give many thanks!
Flowers by Design on Main Street kindly allowed the parade to use its rooms for “costumed character” changing! Thanks, Patti!
This year, the Christmas Celebration event fell on Pearl Harbor Commemoration Day, and both the Reviewing Stand MC and the Band Shell MC noted that, in the midst of holiday festivities and joy, it is right and proper to pause and remember the brave men and women who fought for our country, our freedoms and our rights, in every conflict, and also who also served in times of peace, keeping us strong and free. Those who made the supreme sacrifice will never be forgotten, and those who served honorably have our respect and our thanks today and forever!
On a personal note, I want to thank the Town of Bel Air and the Bel Air Downtown Alliance for having the heart and sensitivity to mount such a celebration, now well into its third decade. The Holiday Season (whether one celebrates Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, or any other holiday) is one of joy, and is the time to celebrate life and family, and to give to charity and to the community. It is the season of hope and rebirth, and of the fellowship of humankind. As the days grow dark and cold, we illuminate and warm our community and our lives with events like this, so we look forward to the return of light, warmth and growth, both physical and spiritual.
Yours most sincerely,
Bel Air Christmas Celebration 2014