Bel Air Independence Day Committee
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The History of the Bel Air July 4 Celebration

July 4 in Bel Air

In 1775, a group of Harford County, Maryland, citizens signed the Bush Declaration, dedicating their support for the actions then being undertaken by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia - actions that led to the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, issued on July 4, 1776.

In the years since then, this country has stood by its commitment to uphold inalienable rights such as "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Citizens of Harford County have also stood by that long-ago pledge to support our nation, in the words of the Bush Declaration, "at the risque of our lives and fortunes."

The first recorded Independence Day parade in Bel Air was held on July 4, 1963. It was the result of several leading local businessmen and Town officials putting their heads together and simply deciding to form a committee to do it!

The first committee, then, was led by Jim McMahan, the local New York Life Agent, who had recently been discharged from active service. Its members also included:

  • M. Eugene Street (Owner, Boyd and Fulford's Drug Store)
  • J. Vaughan McMahan (Chief of Police, Town of Bel Air; Jim's father)
  • Bill Gibson (Harford County Yellow Pages salesman)
  • Ernie Johnson (Owner, Johnson Furniture)
  • John Hubble (Manager, The Hub Store)
  • Florio Franetovich, Esq. (Local Attorney)
  • Lee Phillips (Manager, F. W. Woolworth Store)
  • Charles L. Lutz (Owner, Lutz's Appliances)
  • Dave Cohen (Owner, Hirsch's Men's Store)

We are living these days amidst some of the greatest challenges to our way of life that we have ever faced. Our July 4th celebration includes representatives of our local heroes, our local law enforcement and our emergency services personnel. As we go about our daily lives, we owe our safety, our independence, and our continued freedom from fear, to brave men and women like them.

The Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc., composed of volunteers and members of sponsoring organizations, provides the leadership and workers to plan and carry out the many activities of our celebration. For a list of current Committee members, and the list of all the volunteers and Town of Bel Air personnel who are in charge of various parts of the day's events, please visit the Meet the Committee page.

Financial support is also received from many businesses and professional people in the Bel Air area. This web site contains a list of the patrons and sponsors who have financially assisted with our celebration during the current and previous calendar years, on the Sponsors page.

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The Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc.
P.O. Box 724 • Bel Air, Maryland 21014
410-879-4245 (Answering Service)


All trademarks, art work, coding, copy, etc., are property of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc., unless otherwise noted, and may not be reproduced or copied without permission.

The Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc., is recognized by the United States Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt corporation.

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