From Michael I . Blum, Parade Chairman, Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc.:
On behalf of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc., I wish to thank the greater Bel Air and Harford County community for its support of and response to the 2017 Bel Air July 4th Independence Day parade.
As I’ve said over the years — and I have been the Bel Air July 4th Parade director for 25 consecutive parades, now — we here in Bel Air are in the Parade Business. Rain during the staging time? Rain during the parade? What rain? We have a special Town, and special citizens. WE PUT ON A PARADE!
We work all year to provide something patriotic, fun, exciting, moving, musical and memorable on July 4, and we deliver it. So our parades of course welcome drop-dead-beautiful weather (2009, 2014) — and are undaunted by horrible heat (1999, 2012) or steady rain (2007, 2016) or early rain, then dry, then some rain, then beautiful (2017)!
There is only one thing that’s set: we will deliver a memorable parade, worthy of our great country and community.
This is no surprise! The Bel Air July 4th Parade shows greater Bel Air to be the patriotic, fun and accessible family-oriented community it truly is. Many of our bands has already played in one, two, three or FOUR other parades before arriving in Bel Air — but I heard from them, time and time again, that “BEL AIR WAS THE BEST!” I believe that they were right. BEL AIR IS THE BEST!
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. 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.
It is also surely significant that our Committee has received such support from our community for the parade, beginning with our fireworks sponsor, Harford Mutual Insurance Company.
Before the parade, flags were given out to all children in the crowd along the parade route by volunteers from the Bel Air Lions Club. What a marvelous thing this is — to go down the parade route and see thousands and thousands of American flags being waved! Thank you, Bel Air Lions!
In addition to the Lions, sponsoring organizations overall include the Bel Air Auxiliary Police Unit, the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, Inc., and the Town of Bel Air. The Committee also received cash 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, led by its Chairperson, Mayor Susan U. Burdette, and Vice Chair Robert M. Preston, and including Philip L. Einhorn, Brendan P. Hopkins and Patrick T. Richards; and also Town Administrator Jesse Bane, and Town Director of Human Resources and Administration Michael Krantz. I also wish to thank Chief of Police Charles Moore, Sergeant Robert Pfaff, the entire Bel Air Police Department, and Town of Bel Air Public Works personnel, led by Steve Klein and Chuck Arnold, and especially including Freddie and Jake, for their help.
There were many members of the Town of Bel Air Police Department and the Harford County Sheriff’s Department who helped us mount the parade — directing traffic, shuttling buses, helping lead the horses through the back streets, sealing off roads, etc. I was completely impressed especially by the Sheriff’s Deputies, Town Police and Bel Air Volunteer Fire Personnel, led by Charlie Walls, who helped us at our most busy STAGING corner — E. MacPhail Road and S. Main Street — where EVERY parade unit and all the buses were checked in and routed to the staging area. We couldn’t have done it without them.
We had wonderful bands in our parade, led by eight of our local high schools. Their hard-working local band directors deserve high marks for turning their bands out in such great numbers and with such great spirit, in the midst of summer vacation!
So, thanks to Samantha Romero of Bel Air High School; Mary Lynn Twentey, Dr. Joel Frisch, and George Ferenz of C. Milton Wright High School; Craig Harvey of Fallston High School; John Wojciechowski of Edgewood High School; Richard Hauf of Havre de Grace High School; Ron Burke of Patterson Mill High School; Cammie Jennings and Julie Parrish of the John Carroll School; and Joshua Baker of Joppatowne High School.
To the many businesses, churches, clubs, individuals and organizations 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 shone brightly through the downpour , 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 Idlewild and South Main Street, who kindly allowed us to marshal the parade in front of and all around them. We also owe a great debt of gratitude to Harford Mutual Insurance Company and Klein’s ShopRite of North Main Street, which allowed us to use their parking lots to link up performers and buses and families after the parade. We also received tremendous support from the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Command (CBRNE) of the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, whose commander, Brigadier General William E. King, IV, walked in the parade; and from Major General Randy Taylor, Commanding General of APG, who was one of our notables 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, many volunteers to make a parade happen, and I need to send many, many thanks to our many, many volunteers. First, I thank our marvelous parade marshals, many of whom come from or are related to Boy Scout Troops 313 and 777 of Bel Air, which have for long been major supporters of this event: David Williams, Aaron Cahall, Dave Andrews, Jack Deal, Greg Cooper, Ron Eastridge, Andrew Politz, Bill Smith, Lisa Williams, Annette Blum, Bill McCutcheon, John McCutcheon, Logan Folmer, Zach Heckman, Dan Folmer, David Blum, Angie Edmond, Jon Garvin, Chris Garvin, Hayden Topf, Vincent Nohe, Katie Nohe, Steve Quinn and extra volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 777.
Kim Politz, Mary Ann Williams & Perry Thompson were the Reviewing Stand Marshals, and our peerless narrator Don Morrison was aided by “text script confirmers” Perry Thompson and Alex Krowzow. Michael Krantz ably fulfilled the SHUTTLE role on very short notice.
Many of the parade units were sponsored by area businesses. Banners in the parade celebrating these sponsors were carried by volunteers from the North Harford Neptunes Swim Team and the Bel Air Parks & Recreation Travel Soccer, under the direction of David Williams. The sponsors were Balsamo, Stewart, Lutters & Ruth, CPAs; Buontempo Brothers/Tower Restaurant; HAR-CO Credit Union; Jarrettsville Federal Savings & Loan Association; Jones Junction; Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland; Plaza Ford; PNC Bank; and TD Bank.
Next, thanks to those who worked at other parts of the parade: Parade dispersal was totally under the firm command of Lisa Williams and Aaron Cahall, assisted by other marshals. The Politz and Williams families did a wonderful job decorating the reviewing stand.
If by any chance I’ve left out someone who worked with us on the parade, please accept my apologies, and my personal thanks, for your volunteerism and commitment.
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. All units were judged as to how well they adhered to or displayed the parade’s theme: “One from Many — Celebrating the Creation of the United States!” Particular praise goes to CUB SCOUT PACK 313’s float, which won the “best float” award, and which truly showed how to take a theme and make it real. Good job, Cub Scouts!
My vote for the “unsung hero” award this year goes to DAVE ANDERSON. During the worst part of the staging-time-downpour, Dave was undeterred, standing in the middle of Rte. 924 at MacPhail with no umbrella, enduring an ocean of water, directing traffic, checking parade passes, telling units where to enter the staging, and never making a mistake! Then, at parade start time, Dave joined me at the starting point and helped make sure the entire parade deployed correctly, in the order preset, from beginning to end. BRAVO, DAVE!
And finally, I’d like to again personally thank the man who might just be the Chief Volunteer of Bel Air — Don Stewart, President of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc., and the Bel Air Lions Youth Coordinator. It was Don who arranged and supervised the flag giveaway, and his thoughtful and caring support, his creativity in coming up with new ideas and interesting additions to a function that he’s been working on for over 30 years, and his hard work, sensitivity, organization, dedication and flexibility are without peer. Without the visionary ideals of our President, Don Stewart, nothing of value or quality would happen in Bel Air on July 4!
Thanks again, Don, for everything.
Well, I think my sneakers have dried by now, so it’s time to start working on 2018!
Michael I . Blum
Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc.