From Michael I . Blum, Parade Chairman, Vice President, Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc.:
To the Editor:
On behalf of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc., I wish to thank the greater Bel Air and Harford County community for its response to this year’s parade. The weather was just beautiful, wasn’t it? A bit hot, but not too bad, with a lovely breeze! No threat of rain, and it actually got clearer and clearer as the evening went on.
After all these years, I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised at the size of the crowd, but I was — it was an immense crowd, certainly much larger than last year. I want to compliment the citizens of the Town of Bel Air and of Harford County for their behavior. The entire parade showed greater Bel Air to be the patriotic, fun and accessible family-oriented community it truly is.
Many people do not realize that the Bel Air July 4th Parade, as part of the overall Independence Day celebrations in Bel Air, is funded and run by an independent not-for-profit organization, the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc., which has a vision of what the parade should be, and tries, to the best of its ability, to bring this vision to reality. Of course, the Committee relies on the contributions of individuals, businesses and municipalities – contributions of time, effort, and funds. We interact with Town government and law enforcement, and with the Town Department of Public Works. The Committee also takes into account the needs of the town itself, and the sheer practicality and logistics inherent in mounting such an event.
For instance, in planning for 2013, we decided to shorten the parade’s length by about 45 minutes, to give people more time to relocate from where they viewed the parade to where they would view the fireworks, and to make it easier for the Town of Bel Air DPW and Police Department to regroup and redeploy from one part of the town to the other, in daylight. It’s not easy for a small town to accommodate the influx of tens of thousands (maybe more!) people, all arriving at basically the same time, looking for parking, and seating, and food, and services. Think of the stress this puts on the roads, sidewalks, parks and parking lots! That Bel Air, Maryland, pulls it off almost as a matter of course speaks volumes about the professionalism and talents of those public servants who are charged with maintaining order. Our goal was to end the parade while it was still light and bright, and we did! We hope that the extra time thus given was useful to all and helped lessen the “holiday anxiety” that we all sometimes feel!
In these challenging economic times, it is surely significant that our Committee has received such support from our community for the parade, beginning with our premier sponsor, Harford Mutual Insurance Company. Other major sponsors were Jones Junction, our Program Sponsor; Band Sponsors Balsamo, Stewart, Lutters & Ruth, CPAs; Buontempo Brothers/Tower Restaurant; The Festival at Bel Air Shopping Center; HAR-CO Maryland Federal Credit Union; Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland; Plaza Ford; PNC Bank; and TD Bank.
Sponsoring organizations overall include the Bel Air Auxiliary Police Unit, the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, Inc., the Town of Bel Air, and the Lions Club of Bel Air. The Committee also received contributions from dozens of individuals and businesses, as listed in our program and on our web site (http://www.belairjuly4.org).
I wish especially to thank the Town of Bel Air Commissioners and Town Administrator Christopher Schlehr; Police Chief Leo Matrangola; Deputy Chief Rick Peschek, the entire Bel Air Police Department, and Town of Bel Air Public Works personnel, led by Chuck Tracy and Mike Cornett, for their help. Mike Krantz and Laura Stafford from the Town of Bel Air Administration helped a great deal as well, especially arranging for the use of the Bel Air Reckord Armory, where Armory Manager Dave Gigliotti made some of our out-of-town bands very welcome for the night of July 4th! Band Directors Mary Lynn Twentey of C. Milton Wright High School, Richard Hauf of Havre de Grace High School, Tony Domenico of Bel Air High School, John Wojciechowski of Edgewood High School, Lewis Blandon of Joppatowne High School, Ronald Burke of Patterson Mill High School and Marc Bolden of John Carroll School also deserve high marks for turning their bands out in such great numbers and with such great spirit, in the midst of summer vacation!
To the many businesses, clubs, individuals, organizations and groups who participated in the parade — you truly exemplify what it means to be public-spirited, patriotic and community-minded. The decorated floats, cars and marching units were many and colorful; your patience and spirit of fun kept shining right until the end of the parade.
I want to also thank our elected public officials for their cooperation and spirited participation.
We all send our grateful appreciation to the residents and businesses on Bond Street, Rockspring Road, Ellendale Street and Gordon Street, who kindly allowed us to marshal the parade in front and all around them on during the afternoon and evening! Particular thanks goes to Klein’s ShopRite, which gave us total use of their parking lots at their Main Street location and those of the ShopRite Gas-N-Go filling station from 4 pm until the parade was over. We also owe a great debt of gratitude to Harford Mutual Insurance Company, our Premier Sponsor, which allowed us to use its parking lots to marshal marching units and notable people, to the Bel Air Presbyterian Church, which let our beauty pageant representatives relax in air-conditioned comfort, and which provided food and drink to our parade marshals, and to the Aegis/Homestead Publishing, which allowed us to use its parking lots on West Pennsylvania Avenue for our equestrian staging. We also received tremendous support from Aberdeen Proving Grounds, whose commander, Major General Robert Ferrell, attended our staging and marched with his color guard in the parade!
Without all this support, we could not have held the parade.
It takes hours and hours of commitment and hard work from many volunteers to make a parade happen, and I need to send many, many thanks to our marvelous parade marshals: Aaron Cahall, Dee Strickland, John Cubbage, Vince Nohe, Katie Nohe, Stephen Quinn, Annette Blum, Dave Andrews, Margaret Beain, Greg Cooper, Ana Beain, Ron Eastridge, Andy Beain, David Blum, Lisa Williams, Meghan Roig, Donna Devord, Brian Devord, Charlie Devord, Bill Smith, Roger Staso, Chris Wilcox, Amelia Wilcox, Nathan Wilcox, John McCutcheon,Tom Siebold, Matt Siebold, Scott Arnold, Liam Arnold, Beth Siebold, Anne Siebold, Amy Ausmus, Jack Ausmus, Jack Deal, David Williams, Hayden Anthony and Kate Anthony. I know that I’ve probably left somebody off this list, and for that I apologize! Refreshments & shuttles were handled by Bill McCutcheon and Chris Hagepanos, who did a marvelous job getting water to the marshals and transporting various people back and forth as needed. Rick Davis and Mike Marino handled our communications with the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Companies and other Harford County fire companies in the parade.
David, Lisa and Mary Anne Williams did a wonderful job decorating the reviewing stand. Great job, guys! Communications were ably handled by Don Stewart. Thanks also to Boy Scout Troops 777 and 313, many of whose members were our marshals, and to the Fountain Green Swim Club, our parade sponsor and banner carriers.
Don Morrison did his usual wonderful job narrating the parade, assisted by Perry Thompson, Reviewing Stand Marshal, and Alex Krowzow, who had the difficult job of texting the Reviewing Stand with the inevitable changes that occurred to the pre-planned parade order, in light of actual unit activity, including no-shows and shifts of positions!
Our Parade Judges (who choose to remain anonymous) did fine work evaluating and ranking the various units in categories for performance and appearance awards and prizes. The complete list of parade prizes and awards is posted on our web site and is also sent to the Aegis for publication.
My vote for the “unsung hero” award this year goes to parade marshal Dave Andrews, who was absolutely essential in managing the very challenging “merge” of divisions and inserts at the point where the parade starts.
And finally, I’d like to again personally thank Don Stewart, President of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc., for his hard work, support, sensitivity, organization, dedication, flexibility and thoughtfulness. As I said above, the Committee has a vision of what the parade should be. I’ve been privileged to have been the Parade Chairman now for over 21 years — but I know that without the visionary ideals of our President, Don Stewart, nothing of value would happen in Bel Air on July 4! Thanks, Don, for everything.
Michael I . Blum
Vice President, Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc.
FOURTH OF JULY IN BEL AIR MARYLAND — FULL REPORT AND RESULTS
BEL AIR, MARYLAND – The July 4th, 2013, Independence Day events in Bel Air, Maryland offered fun, patriotic splendor, and educational interest to citizens of the entire region, all during a day of beautiful summer weather, sunny with light breezes and totally devoid of rain.
Tens of thousands of citizens from the greater Bel Air area and across Harford County, Maryland, participated and enjoyed the traditional small-town events on Thursday, July 4th, 2013, culminating with the annual parade and one of the best fireworks displays since the fireworks moved to their present shoot-off location.
Events got underway at 6:45 am at the new Bel Air High School with the flag raising ceremony, featuring Disabled American Veterans Chapter 30 and American Legion Bel Air Post 39. The national anthem was sung by Miss Bel Air Independence Day 2013 Laura Patnaude.
The traditional pancake and sausage breakfast followed, in which over 2000 adults and children partook of the pancakes, blueberry pancakes, juice and sausages cooked and prepared by over 50 volunteers from the Bel Air Lions, under the direction of Harold Boccia. According to existing records, the number of paid customers in 2013 was the highest ever.
During the morning, the Hays House was open to visitors, and offered lawn games and guided tours of the historic facility. More than 175 visitors stopped by.
Program Cover Contest Winner
In the week leading up to July 4th, the Bel Air Independence Day Committee distributed 20,000 free programs listing all events and containing useful information about the 4th of July in Bel Air. The program’s front cover illustration was chosen by a contest open to all Harford County students. The winning design was done by Faith Moen of Bel Air, a student at Homestead-Wakefield Elementary School. The official program was designed and produced by Michael Blum; 2012 event photos used in the program were taken by Laura Stafford. The 2013 Program was sponsored by Jones Junction.
A full roster of daytime competitive events were held at various locations in the Town of Bel Air. The results of these were as follows:
Horseshoe Pitching (Rockfield Park)
1st: Vicki Smith of Darlington
2nd: Velma Schleicher of Bel Air
1st: Vicki Smith and Breanna Smith of Darlington
1st: Lionel Bowser of Aberdeen
2nd: Johnny Sequoyall of Baltimore
1st: Jim Reabe of Middle River and Bunk Shipley of Arbutus
2nd: Jeff Cooper and Jeff Cooper, Jr., of Delta, PA
Turtle Derby (Shamrock Park; held according to DNR guidelines, with a 1 turtle limit per entrant)
Box Turtles — 86 total participants
1st: Turtle entered by Jacob and Mason Smith
2nd: Bugs, entered by Erin Drumm
3rd: Michelangelo, entered by Jacob Gibson
Other Turtles — 42 total participants
1st: Turtle entered by Billie Bob Joe
2nd: Turtle entered by Eric and Owen
3rd: Turtle entered by Jenna, Bethany and Kelly
Frog Jumping Contest (Shamrock Park; held according to DNR guidelines, with a 1 frog limit per entrant) — 178 total participants
1st: Frog entered by Claire Palmer and Gus MacKres, with a 3-jump total of 156 inches — short of the all-time record of 171 inches
2nd: Frog entered by Erin and Megan Drumm, with a 3-jump total of 135 inches
3rd: Frog entered by Sam Lynch, with a 3-jump total of 118 inches
Bicycle Rodeo (Bel Air Elementary School parking lot)
Best Decorated — Girls: Ava Gottschalk of Abingdon
Best Decorated — Boys: Norman Jones of Delta, PA
Ages 5 and under:
1st: Zach Tamanini of Bel Air
2nd: Sarah Herron of Forest Hill
3rd: Luke Dallaire of Bel Air
1st: Elizabeth McPherson of Abingdon
2nd: Kyle Bacso of Bel Air
3rd: Elizabeth Dallaire of Bel Air
1st: Norman Jones of Delta, PA.
2nd: Emma Burrows of Bel Air
3rd: Daniel Rodier of Bel Air
1st: Jake Borrows of Bel Air
2nd: Aubrey Hoover of Bel Air
3rd: Chase Donelson of Bel Air
Uncle Sam Says (Shamrock Park)
1st: Connor Scurti from Bel Air
2nd: Morgan Hennigan from Bel Air
: Maggie Donohue from Bel Air
1st: Ashton Tolson from Bel Air
2nd: Allison Brown from Bel Air
3rd Robert Kahoe from Bel Air
1st: Gabrielle Roeder from Whiteford
2nd: Morgan Rhinehart from Whiteford
3rd: Jessica Douglas from Whiteford
1st: Sharon Pindell from Bel Air
2nd: Erin Swam from Bel Air
3rd: Madison Battaglia from Bel Air
Watermelon Eating Contest (Shamrock Park)
Ages 6 and under:
1st: Brady Barbas
2nd: Graceanne Manager from Bel Air
3rd: Allison Moce from Bel Air
1st: Zach Kerfoot from Bel Air
2nd: Faith Hess from Whiteford
3rd: Lexi Schmitt from Bel Air
1st: Rob Elliott from Bel Air
2nd: Jason Kolbe from Bel Air
3rd: Amaris Nolan from Bel Air
1st: Brian Daniels from North East
2nd: Jeff Tolson from Bel Air
3rd: Bobby Weaver from Forest Hill
After a recess for the afternoon, the traditional parade began at 6:00 p.m. at the intersection of North Main Street and Gordon Street on the north side of Bel Air. The parade was greeted with approval by an estimated crowd of 45,000 spectators.
Reviewing stand narration was provided by Don Morrison, helped by Text Messaging Parade Marshals, led by Perry Thompson and Alex Krowzow.
Many of the parade units were sponsored by area businesses. Banners in the parade celebrating these sponsors were carried by members of the Fountain Green Swim Club, under the direction of David Williams. Parade sponsors included:
• Balsamo, Stewart, Lutters & Ruth, CPAs, sponsor of the Tampa Bay Thunder
• Buontempo Brothers/Tower Restaurant, sponsor of the Patterson Mill High School Band
• Festival at Bel Air, sponsor of the Harford Highlanders
• HAR-CO Maryland Federal Credit Union, sponsor of the Reading Buccaneers Drum & Bugle Corps
• Jones Junction Auto Dealerships, sponsor of the C. Milton Wright High School Band
• Klein’s ShopRites of Maryland, sponsor of the Bel Air Community Band
• Plaza Ford, sponsor of the Havre de Grace High School Band
• PNC Bank, sponsor of the Bel Air High School Band
• TD Bank, sponsor of the John F. Nicoll Pipes and Drums
6 independent Parade Judges viewed the parade, whose theme was CELEBRATING AMERICA’S VOLUNTEERS!, and awarded the following prizes:
1st Prize: $400: SUSQUEHANNA BEEKEEPERS
2nd Prize: $300: CUB SCOUT PACK 865
3rd Prize: $200: HICKORY HORNETS
4th Prize: $100: RIPKEN BASEBALL
5th Prize: $75: BAHA’I’S OF BEL AIR
6th Prize: $50: BEL AIR LIONS CLUB
1st Prize: $100: LINDSAY LEEDY – UNCLE MILTIE’S MINIS
2nd Prize: $90: VERNA WHITE – AMERICA IN MINIATURE
3rd Prize: $80: SHINING EYE PERCHERONS
ANTIQUE VEHICLES (plaques):
1st Prize: MD STATE POLICE HISTORIC CARS
2nd Prize: SMITH FAMILY ANTIQUE VEHICLE & TRACTORS
3rd Prize: J. SUE HENRY – 1930 MODEL A
COLOR GUARDS (plaques):
1st Prize: HARFORD COUNTY DETACHMENT, MARINE CORPS LEAGUE
2nd Prize: HARFORD COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
MOBILE UNITS (plaques):
1st Prize: BEL AIR CORVETTE CLUB
2nd Prize: PROGRAM COVER ARTIST FAITH MOEN
3rd Prize: DOMINO’S PIZZA
4th Prize: BOUMI SHRINE MOTORCYCLE CORPS
MARCHING UNITS (plaques):
1st Prize: ALPHA-OMEGA 4X4 OFFROAD & CHRISTIAN MINISTRY
2nd Prize: BEL AIR TERPS FOOTBALL AND CHEERLEADERS
3rd Prize: CUB SCOUT PACK 999
EMERGENCY VEHICLES (plaques):
1st Prize: JARRETTSVILLE VFC
2nd Prize: ABINGDON VFC
3rd Prize: LEVEL VFC
COMIC/NOVELTY ACTS (plaques):
1st Prize: MICHAEL ROSMAN’S CIRCUS CAMP STARS
2nd Prize: HALL’S SEPTIC SERVICE
3rd Prize: BUONTEMPO BROTHERS
THE HARFORD COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL BEL AIR JULY 4 PARADE TROPHY is awarded for 2013 to C. MILTON WRIGHT HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING MUSTANG BAND
BANDS, DRUM & BUGLE CORPS, MAJORETTE CORPS (plaques):
1st Prize: FUSION CORE
2nd Prize: SHENANDOAH SOUND
3rd Prize: CAROLINA GOLD
NOTABLE PEOPLE (plaques):
Most Patriotic: HARFORD COUNTY LITTLE MISS FIRE PREVENTION AMBASSADOR SABRINA WAINWRIGHT
Best Presentation: HARFORD COUNTY LITTLE FIRE CHIEF DREW COSENZA
Most Popular with the Crowd: HCPS TEACHER OF THE YEAR & NURSE OF THE YEAR
Seemed Happiest to Be in the Parade: MISS HISTORIC MARYLAND 2013 STEPHANIE MEADOWCROFT
Most Admired Entry: MISS BEL AIR MARYLAND AMERICA 2013 “QUEEN FOR THE CURE” KATIE KINSLOW
Absolutely Unique Entry: KINETIC YOUTH ACADEMY (receives a plaque).
JUDGES AWARDS FOR SPECIAL MERIT:
GEORGE HUBBARD 1959 MERCEDES-BENZ
HAVRE DE GRACE HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND
PATTERSON MILL HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND
JOHN F. NICHOLL PIPE BAND
BEL AIR VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY
BEL AIR COMMUNITY BAND
Winners of awards in the parade are contacted by the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc., to deliver their prizes. Parade awards winners may also call Michael Blum at 410-893-1700.
The evening ended with a grand fireworks display, sponsored by HARFORD MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY. The launch site was Rockfield park, on a height by East Churchville Road.
Sponsoring Organizations for the 2013 Independence Day Celebration and of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee were:
The Bel Air Auxiliary Police Unit
The Bel Air Lions
The Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, Inc.
The Town of Bel Air