Is there anything more fun, more moving and more important than a hometown Fourth of July parade? Whether joining the parade or watching it, we celebrate our independence as a nation and as a people.
Across the land, communities large and small decorate themselves, their dogs and conveyances from baby buggies to trikes and bikes to convertibles, tractors, fire engines and floats. In a partnership of faith and delight, we join as one entity united by shared purpose.
–Sandra Olivetti Martin
From Amos Garrett Blvd., down West St., around Church Circle and down Main St. Parade at 6:30pm, fireworks at 9:15pm (Main St. and Spa Creek Bridge closed 6-10pm), Downtown Annapolis: www.annapolis.gov.
The state capital bursts with patriotic pride every Independence Day with a parade, music by the USNA Concert Band at Susan Campbell Park and spectacular fireworks over the harbor.
Marching in the parade is a special honor, says Glenn Carr, a parent volunteer of a Special Olympics athlete who has marched for the last four years.
“We’d been loving the Annapolis parade for a number of years,” said Carr, “and I started thinking Why can’t we be a part of the parade? We see a lot of other civic groups here and Special Olympics is a great cause that people love to support.”
Anne Arundel Special Olympics athletes wear their uniforms and medals and march with a banner and wave flags.
“This year we have a decorated van as part of our procession,” says Carr. “It’s a lot of fun, and we love to expose our athletes to the public.”
The sight of these smiling marchers draws a lot of cheering and love from the crowds, he adds. “One of our athletes, a young lady who works at a grocery store, saw some customers at the parade that recognized her, and she was absolutely thrilled. I always tell them to ‘bring your flags and spread your happiness’. It’s a great day for our country.”
Park at city garages and take the Circulator trolley ($1) to the top of Main Street. The trolleys run 8am-midnight. Shuttle service ($1) is also available from Gate 5 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium to Lawyers Mall 5pm-midnight.
The closer you get to downtown the harder it will be to park and the more difficulty you will have getting out of town after the celebration.
Watching by boat? Because of the anticipated crowds, boaters are urged to select their preferred viewing area anchorage early and are warned to avoid the 1,000-foot safety zone around the fireworks barge.
Cape St. Claire Parade
Parade begins at 10am from the Cape St. Claire firehouse, travels one mile to River Bay Rd., then to the beach; fun continues at the main beach 11am-2pm: 410-757-1223; www.cscia.org/d/July4th-celebration.
The Cape St. Claire community joins together to celebrate Independence Day with a parade down to the main beach area. The atmosphere is family-friendly with lots of youth sports groups passing out goodies along the route. Rhiannon Dunn, coach of the Cape Rugby Football Club, says the kids in her co-ed touch rugby team plan to throw candy and trinkets from their float.
“This is our third parade,” she says. “I love the Cape. I’ve lived here about 16 years, and I love the parade. It’s a chance for the whole community to come together and enjoy our neighbors. We are like a small town. Even being so close to D.C. and Baltimore, we still have that small town feel.”
Dunn reports that for the players, it’s a can’t-miss-event. “It’s like one of their favorite things to do even being in the midst of our playing season.”
Her favorite thing? “There are a couple of really interesting floats. For being a tiny community parade, the amount of effort and enthusiasm that goes into it is interesting. We are working on a float, but I am not sure how floaty it will be since just last week I realized that July Fourth was coming up. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime.”
Prizes are awarded for the Most Patriotic and Most Creative entries. Games and activities at the beach after the parade include tug of war, a sandcastle building contest, a water balloon toss, spoon and egg races and watermelon eating contest. Grillmasters compete to win the title of best Backyard Ribs in the Cape — guest judges sample entries and choose a winner.
From Anchors Way, between Galesville Park and Hardesty Funeral Home down Galesville Rd., turning right onto East Benning Rd., winding until it passes the community center, then out on West Benning and across to the Anchors Way starting point. Main St. closes at 12:45pm; parade at 1pm: 410-867-2648; www.galesvilleheritagesociety.org/July4th.shtml.
The historic waterfront community of Galesville began its Fourth of July parade tradition late, in 1994, with just fireworks, sponsored by the Galesville Heritage Society. A parade was added the next year. Each year the festivities grew a little more, until the fireworks brought in so many people that it overwhelmed the community’s resources. So the fireworks ended, but the parade lives on.
The Annapolis Drum & Bugle Corps, a Color Guard and Uncle Sam lead the parade, followed by fire engines, antique vehicles, floats of all kinds by individuals, local businesses and civic groups, decorated bicycles and walking, marching and equestrian groups.
Each year, a contingent from Oak Crest Farm in Davidsonville joins the parade. A dozen or more young riders carrying large American flags sit proud atop decorated horses with braided, beribboned tails. The riders show their patriotism in their American flag-print riding clothes and cowboy hats. Riders and horses march in formation, showcasing their paired skills.
The parade route is lined with cheering onlookers, along with private and public cookouts and barbeques. Volunteers in white shirts, blue shorts and red bandanas monitor the route, answer questions and hand out water. The parade usually takes about an hour, but there may be delays for accidents, mechanical difficulties or just plain enthusiasm for the day.
All paraders earn ribbons, with volunteer judges awarding prizes in various categories.
Severna Park Parade
From St. Martin’s in the Field Episcopal Church along Benfield and Evergreen roads to downtown Severna Park. 10am: 410-647-3900.
Severna Park is not an incorporated town like Chesapeake Beach or a city like Annapolis, but the sense of community is strong, especially on the Fourth of July, when Severna Park hosts one of the largest parades in the area, a community highlight for more than 40 years.
“It’s a way to celebrate our nation’s birthday, the spirit of freedom and our love of country,” says Linda Zahn, CEO of the Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce, who leads the effort. It takes months of planning and about 70 volunteers to plan and execute a successful parade.
Just how successful is it?
“We don’t have an official count, but it must be thousands,” Zahn told Bay Weekly. “Last year it rained through the entire parade. People stood in the rain watching, and almost all of the marchers marched.”
This year’s theme, Celebrating Harmony in America, seems an appropriate choice for this election year.
Eighty to 100 parade entries are likely, from simple politicians waving from convertibles to 30 antique cars. As in most hometown parades, there will also be local school bands, fire departments, businesses and community groups.