We Had a Wonderful Time in 2003 - Hope You Were There!

Welcome to a complete overview of the events of July 4, 2003! Special thanks to Larry Leedy for collecting results of the individual day events, and to our Parade Judges (who, by their own wish, remain anonymous) for diligently sorting through over 150 different parade entrants and determining the winners!

There's a lot of information here about 2003, so here is a brief Table of Contents to help you navigate through it. Simply select the category of information you wish to see!

Sponsoring Organizations

Patrons and Donors

Parade Overview

Parade Unit Sponsors

Parade Results

Day Time Event Results:
  Animal Event Results
  People Event Results

Overall Summary of the Day

Flags for Kids Sponsorship

Fireworks Sponsorship

Bel Air Community Band Concert

The July 4th, 2003, Independence Day events in Bel Air, Maryland offered fun, patriotic splendor and educational interest to citizens of the entire region. Upwards of 85,000 citizens from the greater Bel Air area and across Harford County, Maryland, participated and enjoyed the traditional small-town events on Friday, July 4, 2003, which culminated with the annual parade and a special fireworks display.

According to Don Stewart, President of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc. (the independent non-profit corporation that stages the annual event), "We were lucky in the weather, considering the down pour of the day before. It was hot during the day, but not too bad, and a line of clouds that passed over us at 6 pm simply reduced the heat for the evening and led to lovely, clear weather the rest of the night."

Michael Blum, Vice President of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee and 2003 Parade Chairman, agrees, saying "We were immensely pleased with the friendly and good natured response of the community, and we wish to thank everyone for their high spirits and the warm welcome they gave to the many colorful parade units this year."

Events got underway at 6:45 am at Bel Air High School with the flag raising ceremony featuring John Parslow, bugler, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 30 and American Legion Bel Air Post 39.

The traditional pancake and sausage breakfast followed; according to Harold Boccia of the Bel Air Lions, over 1,750 adults and children partook of the pancakes, blueberry pancakes, juice and sausages cooked and prepared by over 50 volunteers from the Bel Air Lions. "I've never seen such a group of happy, hungry people," Boccia says, "At one point we thought we were going to run out of blueberries, but we pulled it out!"

A full roster of daytime events followed, including the traditionally popular animal contests. Although the frog jumping contest saw a large decline in numbers of competitors as compared to 2002 (81 versus 186), possibly due to recent heavy rains inhibiting their capture, the other events held their own or increased, with 47 hamsters, 54 non-box turtles and 146 box turtles, the last number being "definitely a record for this event," according to Mary Dean, Coordinator of Frogs, Turtles and Hamster Racing. The officials running the events cautioned all animal owners and handlers to treat their charges well, to keep them thoroughly watered, and urged them to return the frogs and turtles to their natural environment.

Results were:

  • Hamster Races (47 contestants): 1st place (for the 2nd consecutive year): Timmy, owned by Graham Farr of Forest Hill; 2nd: Bandit, owned by Gabrielle Kropff of Bel Air. 3rd: Vanessa, owned by Ryan Kirby of Bel Air.
  • Box Turtle Races (146 box turtles): 1st place: Snowflake owned by Jen and Julie Alejo of Fallston; 2nd: Spot, owned by Chad Short of Whiteford; 3rd: Shiloh, owned by Charlotte Lamphear of Bel Air.
  • Non-Box Turtle Races (56 various turtles): 1st place: Claude, owned by Charles, Jenny and Abby Anderson of Bel Air; 2nd place, Speedy, also owned by Charles, Jenny and Abby Anderson of Bel Air (who must run a turtle training enterprise); 3rd, Raphael, owned by Jeana Domiano of Abingdon.
  • Frog Jumping (81 total frogs) was won by Jumper, owned by Jacob Suess of Pylesville, with a combined 3-jump total of 132 inches: good jumps, but short of the 149Ó record set in 1998. 2nd was Hopper, owned by Khristopher Nickelson of Abingdon, with a combined 3-jump total of 123 inches; 3rd was Bob, owned by Colin, Ryan and Sarah Zoll of Bel Air, with a combined 3-jump total of 95".

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In events for people, the Horseshoe Pitch Men's Singles Division was won by Bob Swartz of Baltimore City; 2nd was James Stewart of Baltimore City. Women's Singles was won by Boots Raab of Bel Air; 2nd place was won by Vicki Smith of Darlington. Men's Doubles was won by Bob Swartz and Terry Hotzelberger of Baltimore County; 2nd place was Aryo Mikkonen of Bel Air and Wayne Ploughman of Baltimore County. Women's Doubles was won by Vicki Smith and Lorrie Monaghan of Darlington; 2nd place was Boots Raab and Robin O'Loughlin of Bel Air.

In the Uncle Sam Says competition, the ages 5-7 division was won by Kelly Stifler of Forest Hill; 2nd was Brad Barth of Bel Air, and 3rd was Jenna Velasquez of Bel Air. The ages 8-10 division was won by Trace Fairbaugh of Bel Air; 2nd was Daniel Flemming of Bel Air and 3rd was Katelin Blair of Bel Air. The ages 11-13 division was won by Brenton Bobal of Forest Hill; 2nd was Michele Stamm of Bel Air and 3rd was Brea Butler of Bel Air. An Adult Division Experimental Competition was also held, and Uncle Sam would like to go on record as saying "Next year, the adults will be judged more stringently!"

The Bicycle Rodeo saw Trophies for Best Decorated Bike won by Ryan Harrington of Bel Air (boys) and Connor Hanley of Bel Air (girls). In the 5 and under class, 1st was Noah McKinney, 2nd was Caleb Riley and 3rd was Garrett Hanley; in the 6-8 class, 1st was Zack Olsen, 2nd was Adam McKiney, and 3rd was Conor Hanley; in the 9-10 division, 1st was Josie Schimminger, 2nd was Brett Wilson, and 3rd was Kelly Creswell. In the Ages 11-13 division, 1st was Jamie Kerins, 2nd was Blake Calligara, and 3rd was John Struhle.

The Watermelon Eating Contest in the ages 6 and under division was won by Devan Rightlester of Bel Air; 2nd was Emma Chmielewski of Bel Air, and 3rd was Grace Richards. In the 7-10 division, 1st was Samantha Miller of Rockville, 2nd was Sully Gertery of St. Margarets, and 3rd was Spencer Bobal of Forest Hill. In the 11-16 Division, 1st was Todd Schlossnagle of Bel Air, 2nd was a tie between Billy Gunther and Corey Gluck of Bel Air and Abingdon, respectively; 3rd was Brea Butler of Bel Air. The Adult Division was won by Jay Ellenby of Bel Air, with Gary Hamastra of Forest Hill and Jamie Reeves of Street tied for 2nd and 3rd place.

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After a recess for the afternoon, the traditional parade began at 6:00 pm at the corner of Lee Street and North Main Street in downtown Bel Air. The parade featured the route down Main Street, right on Baltimore Pike and left onto Kenmore Street that was debuted in 2000, with the parade staged in the Shamrock and Lee Way neighborhood and ending at the intersection of South Main Street and Idlewild Street.

Before the actual parade began, American Flags were handed out to all children along the parade route. The flags were generously donated by the Bel Air Branch of M & T Bank, led by Deborah Williams. Distribution of flags was handled by bank employees, bank friends and neighbors, and by members of the Bel Air Bobcats Varsity Football Team, all led by Don Stewart.

As two UH-1 "Hughie" helicopters from the United States Army National Guard, crewed by veterans of the war in Iraq, roared overhead, the parade got off right on time. Reviewing stand narration was provided by Don Morrison of the Harford County Board of Education.

Many of the parade units were sponsored by area businesses. These sponsors included:

  • Brass & Oak Galleries
  • Campbell, Nolan and Associates
  • Coughlin & Mann, Chartered, CPAs
  • The Festival at Bel Air Shopping Center
  • Forest Hill State Bank
  • Jones Junction Auto Dealerships
  • Klein's Super Markets of Harford County
  • Lions of Bel Air
  • Parris - Castoro Eye Care Center
  • Plaza Ford
  • Seidenberg Protzko Eye Associates and
  • Wal-Mart of Abingdon.

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Parade Results

8 independent Parade Judges viewed the parade, whose theme was Home of the Brave, and awarded the following prizes:

I. Floats
A. Organizational or Personal Float Entries
1st Place: $500: Girl Scouts Community 80
2nd Place: $300: Cub Scout Pack 809
3rd Place: $200: Mount Zion United Methodist Church
4th Place: plaque: Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company Ladies' Auxiliary
5th Place: plaque: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
6th Place: plaque: Oak Grove Baptist Church
7th Place: plaque: Silver Eagle Cloggers
8th Place: plaque: Cub Scout Pack 234
B. Commercial Float Entries
1st Place: $300: Diamond Dance Center
2nd Place: $150: The Aegis
3rd Place: $100: Harford Hospice
II. Equestrian Units
A. Organizational
1st Place: $150: Flamin' Frontier Farms
2nd Place: $125: Shadow Brook Farms
Hon. Mention: Shining Eye Percherons
B. Personal
1st Place: $150: Corinne Rudell
2nd Place: $125: Ashton Rudell
Hon. Mention: Freedom Riders - America in Miniature
III. Antique Vehicles
1st Place: plaque: Elmer Smith: 1926 Buick
2nd Place: plaque: David Kluck: 1955 Willys Bermuda
3rd Place: plaque: Bruce Wheeler: 1931 Ford
IV. Mobile Units
1st Place: plaque: Bel Air Corvette Club
2nd Place: plaque: Buontempo Brothers/Tower Restaurant
3rd Place: plaque: Greene Construction Company
4th Place: plaque: Nice Dreams Car Club
5th Place: plaque: Hall's Septic Service
V. Emergency Vehicles
1st Place: plaque: Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company
2nd Place: plaque: Level Volunteer Fire Company
3rd Place: plaque: Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company
VI. Marching Units
1st Place: plaque: Cub Scout Pack 999
2nd Place: plaque: New Covenant Christian Church
3rd Place: plaque: Cub Scout Pack 830
VII. Comic/Novelty Acts
1st Place: plaque: Ravens Nest #1 Fan Bus
2nd Place: plaque: Boumi Temple Camel Wheels
VIII. Color Guards
1st Place: plaque: American Legion Post #39 Harford County
2nd Place: plaque: U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Color Guard & Flotilla 13-04
3rd Place: plaque: Invaders of Baltimore, Inc., Honor Color Guard
IX. Bands, Drum & Bugle Corps, Majorette Corps
1st Place: plaque: C. Milton Wright High School Band
2nd Place: plaque: Reading Buccaneers Drum & Bugle Corps
3rd Place: plaque: Bel Air Community Band
X. Beauty Queens / Featured Individuals of Merit and Honor
Most Patriotic: plaque: Maryland State Farm Queen: Hannah Amoss
Best Presentation: plaque: Miss Teen Northern Chesapeake: Rachel Harkins
XI. "Most Unique" Entry
Governor Robert Ehrlich (for being the first Governor of Maryland EVER to participate in the Bel Air Independence Day Parade)
XII. Judges Awards for Special Merit in the 2003 Parade
Kathleen Smith: 1931 Ford Roadster
New Edition Drum & Majorette Corps
WXCY-FM & Jammin' Country Line Dancers
Harford Scuba
Maryland Army National Guard UH-1 "Hughie" Helicopters Flyover
Charles Blevins: 1930 Model A Ford

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The parade was followed by a patriotic band concert by the Bel Air Community Band and Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of C. Scott Sharnetzka. The full program was as follows:

Patriotic Band Concert
Bel Air Community Band

C. Scott Sharnetzka, Music Director
Ron Burke, Associate Musical Director
Robert Veidt, Band President
Robert Wooters, Narrator
Betty Buckless, Soprano Soloist

National Anthem arr. Jack Stamp
Semper Fidelis John Philip Sousa
The Homefront: Musical Memories from WWII arr. James Christensen
American Originals arr. Sammy Nestico
The Light Eternal (Narrator: Robert Wooters) James Swearingen
America the Beautiful Ward/Dragon
Star Spangled Spectacular George M. Cohan
God Bless America (audience sing-a-long) Berlin/Leidzen
Armed Forces Medley arr. Bruce Malone
The Stars and Stripes Forever John Philip Sousa

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Amplification of the concert was provided by a grant from Morris & Ritchie Associates, Inc. / Geo-Technology Associates, Inc./ Harford Drilling and Testing, Inc.

The 2003 fireworks were sponsored by Har-Co Maryland Federal Credit Union, and produced by Fireworks Productions, Inc. According to Bel Air Police Chief Leo Matrangola, "I estimate attendance at or around Bel Air High School for the fireworks at easily over 80,000. We had almost no problems with the crowds, who were on the whole well-behaved and supportive of the event," Matrangola adds.

Sponsoring Organizations for 2003

The Bel Air Auxiliary Police Unit
The Bel Air Lions
The Bel Air Rotary
The Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, Inc.
Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation
Harford County Public Schools
The Town of Bel Air

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Patrons and Supporters of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee for 2003 included:

Founders

A Better Answer
Bel Air Rotary Foundation
Brass & Oak Galleries
Campbell & Nolan Associates, Inc.
Coughlin & Mann, Chartered, CPAs
Dresher Foundation, Inc.
Festival at Bel Air Shopping Center
Forest Hill State Bank
HAR-CO Maryland Federal Credit Union
The Harford Mall
Jones Junction
KleinÕs Super Markets
Lions Club of Bel Air
Martino, Blum & Associates, Inc.
Parris-Castoro Eye Care Center
Plaza Ford
Seidenberg Protzko Eye Associates
Town of Bel Air
Wal-Mart of Abingdon

Minutemen

Bel Air Road Supply Company
Frederick Ward Associates, Inc.
Gessner, Snee, Mahoney & Lutche, PA
Jarrettsville Federal Savings & Loan
KefauverÕs Lumber & Hardware
Mrs. Flowers Florist
Peppi-Meats, Inc.
Ronnie's Beverage Warehouse
Smith & Kane, P.A.

Skyrockets

Ashbrook Insurance Services
Conway Management Company, Inc.
Corbin Fuel Company, Inc.
Dean Insurance Agency, Inc.
Edgewood Corporation
FarmerÕs Bank of Maryland
Grove Plumbing & Heating, Inc.
Law Office of Kevin T. Olszewski, P.A.
Charles L. Lutz, Inc.
McComas Funeral Home, P.A.
Paidon Products Company, Inc.
J. Jay Pecora, P. E.

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Roman Candles

Brown, Brown and Brown, P.A.
Clorox Products Manufacturing Co., Inc.
Dr. John O. Duguid, D.D.S., P.A.
Leo Handerhan, Jr., D.D.S.
Loyal Order of the Moose, Bel Air
Harford County Association of Realtors
Harford Bank
Higinbotham Family
Kunkel Service Company
OÕNeill Auctioneers & Appraisers

Firecrackers

American Leg. Aux. Š Harford Unit #39
Jane Armstrong
William H. Cox, Jr., Real Estate, Inc.
Clarence and Eunice Fry
Martin Glackin
Handy Stamps for Collectors
Lin-Mar Development Corporation
Schlaich, Thompson & Caruso, Chtd.
W. K. Smith & J. A. Smith, P.A.
Stark & Keenan, P.A.
Stockson Printing Company
R.C. Vanden Bosche, D.D.S.

Contributors

Carnaggio Family
Law Offices of Getz, Getz & Getz
Elsie M. Herbst
HirschÕs Mens Store, Inc.
Jarrettsville Family Care
Margaret Lesch
Noble Consulting Engineering

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