We Had a Wonderful Time in 2004 - Hope You Were There!

Welcome to a complete overview of the events of July 4, 2004! 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 100 different parade entrants and determining the winners!

There's a lot of information here about 2004, so here is a brief Table of Contents to help you navigate through it. Simply select the category of information you wish to see!

Divers Photographs of the Entire Day (more than just these!)

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

Despite late afternoon showers and the threat of thunderstorms, the July 4th, 2004, Independence Day events in Bel Air, Maryland, produced by the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, succeeded in offering upwards of 50,000 people a day of old fashioned small-town fun, patriotic splendor, and delivering thanks to the troops of the country.

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, the breakfast chairman , 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, "We actually ran out of sausages, fortuanately right at the end of the breakfast!"

A full roster of daytime events followed, including the traditionally popular animal contests. Helped by the unusually cool and breeze weather, a very large crowd both attended and participated in the events. According to Mary Dean, coordinator of Frogs, Turtles and Hamster Racing, "I don't think I've ever seen so many people here!" 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 (18 contestants): 1st place: Shadow, owned by Meg and Cat Murphy of Bel Air.; 2nd: Blizzard, owned by Shane West of Bel Air. 3rd: Snickers, owned by Shea Mannix of Bel Air.
  • Box Turtle Races (110 box turtles): 1st place: Roxy, owned by Jessica Jirout of Forest Hill; 2nd: Thunderbolt, owned by Kelly Fowlk of Havre de Grace; 3rd: Gusto, owned by Sam and Jennie Lynch of Bel Air.
  • Non-Box Turtle Races (55 various turtles): 1st place (for the second consecutive year!): Claude, owned by Jenny Anderson of Bel Air; 2nd place, Hunter S. Thompson, owned by Ivan Wild of Bel Air; 3rd, Turtle Soup, owned by Brady Vickers of Bel Air.
  • Frog Jumping (176 participants): 1st place, with a combined jump length of 111.5": Hoppy, owned by Thomas Mitchell and Becky Street of Forest Hill; 2nd was Static (109"), owned by Nick and Amanda Calantano of Bel Air. 3rd was Godzilla, (107"), owned by Grant Reeves of Bel Air. The jump length is the total of the first three jumps from the starting point. The record for the Frog Jumping Contest is 149" in three jumps, set in 1998. So these frogs, although excellent jumpers, still have over a yard to go for the record!

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In events for people, the Horseshoe Pitch Men's Singles Division was won by Arvo Mikkonen of Bel Air; 2nd was Thomas Tapler of Bel Air. Women's Singles was won by Vicki Smith of Darlington; 2nd was Boots Raab of Bel Air. Men's Doubles was won by James Stewart and Zach Walter, Jr., of Baltimore; 2nd place was Mike Anderson and Doug Anderson, of Bel Air and Abingdon, respectively. Women's Doubles was won by Vicki Smith and Lorrie Monaghan of Bel Air; 2nd place was Boots Raab and Charlotte Onion of Stewartstown, PA.

In the Uncle Sam Sayscompetition, the ages 5-7 division was won by Chase Weber of Bel Air; 2nd was Madison Glass of Bel Air, and 3rd was Abby Fleming of Bel Air. The ages 8-10 division was won by Nate Swartz of Bel Air; 2nd was Ryan King of Bel Air and 3rd was Jenna Velasquez of Washington, DC. The ages 11-13 division was won by Alexis Evers of Forest Hill; 2nd was Michele Stamm of Bel Air and 3rd was Trace Fairbauth of Bel Air. An Adult Division Honorary 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 Grayson Saldana of Bel Air (boys) and Beth Johnson of Forest Hill (girls). In the 5 and under class, 1st was Noah McKinney, 2nd was Grant Astle and 3rd was Jimmy Fisher; in the 6-8 class, 1st was Elijah Olsen, 2nd was Justin Freeman, and 3rd was Beth Johnson; in the 9-10 division, 1st was Holly Cook, 2nd was Linus Schimminger, and 3rd was Adrian Bogart. In the Ages 11-13 division, 1st was Jamie Kerins, 2nd was Danny Eapen, and 3rd was Josie Schimminger.

The Watermelon Eating Contest in the ages 6 and under division was won by Michael Imbierowicz of Bel Air; 2nd was Jeffery Green of Bel Air, and 3rd was Jennifer King of Ontario, Canada. In the 7-10 division, 1st was Brooke Watson of Bel Air, 2nd was Sully Gerety of Bel Air, and 3rd was Adam Isennock of Darlington. In the 11-16 Division, 1st was Billy Gunther of Bel Air, 2nd was Samantha Miller of Rockville, 3rd was Chris Ryan of Bel Air.

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During a recess for the afternoon, the rains came: by 4:00 pm it was drizzling and by 4:30 pm it was raining heavily. But the rains lightened by 5:20 pm and stopped completely by 5:45 pm, allowing the traditional parade to begin right on time 6:00 pm at the corner of Lee Street and North Main Street in downtown Bel Air. "I was truly amazed at the good sportsmanship shown by participants and spectators alike," says Parade Chairman Michael Blum. "At 5 pm there was hardly a soul on Main Street, but by 6 pm it was as crowded as I've ever seen it!"

As in every year beginning in 2000, the parade proceeded south on Main Street, right on Baltimore Pike and left onto Kenmore Street before 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.

Three UH-1 "Hughie" helicopters from the United States Army National Guard, roared overhead at the start of the parade, and as they passed the reviewing stand, one peeled out in the traditional "missing man" drill in memory of the death in Iraq the week before of Lance Corporal Patrick Adle of Fallston. The parade, whose theme was "Thanks to the Troops," included many representatives of the armed forces, including a detachment of Marines from APG and representatives of the Army National Guard from Edgewood. 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
  • Clifton Gunderson LLP
  • The Festival at Bel Air Shopping Center
  • Forest Hill State Bank
  • Jones Junction Auto Dealerships
  • Klein's Family Markets of Harford County
  • Lions of Bel Air
  • Parris - Castoro Eye Care Center
  • Plaza Ford and
  • Seidenberg Protzko Eye Associates

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Parade Results

8 independent Parade Judges viewed the parade, whose theme was "Thanks to the Troops!," and awarded the following prizes:

I. Floats
A. Organizational or Personal Float Entries
1st Place: $500: Oak Grove Baptist Church
2nd Place: $300: Perryville Volunteer Fire Company
3rd Place: $200: Cub Scout Pack 809
4th Place: plaque: Cub Scout Pack 806
5th Place: plaque: Red Hat Society
B. Commercial Float Entries
1st Place: $300: Diamond Dance Center
2nd Place: $150: Silver Eagle Cloggers
II. Equestrian Units
A. Organizational
1st Place: $150: Flamin' Frontier Farms
2nd Place: $125: Freedom Riders - America in Miniature
B. Personal
1st Place: $150: Shining Eye Percherons
2nd Place: $125: Corinne and Ashton Rudell
III. Antique Vehicles
1st Place: plaque: Roy Clark - 1961 Military Jeep
2nd Place: plaque: Red Hatters - 1956 Cadillac Convertible
3rd Place: plaque: Charles Blevins - 1930 Model A Ford.
IV. Mobile Units
1st Place: plaque: Bel Air Corvette Club
2nd Place: plaque: Buontempo Brothers/Tower Restaurant
3rd Place: plaque: Hall's Septic Service
4th Place: plaque: The Elected Officials of Harford County
5th Place: plaque: The Bel Air Town Commissioners
V. Emergency Vehicles
1st Place: plaque: Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company
2nd Place: plaque: Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company
3rd Place: plaque: Darlington Volunteer Fire Company
VI. Marching Units
1st Place: plaque: Jarrettsville Young Marines
2nd Place: plaque: Applause of Bel Air
3rd Place: plaque: Intercoastal Trucking / US Marine Corps, APG
VII. Comic/Novelty Acts
1st Place: plaque: Ravens Nest #1 Fan Bus
2nd Place: plaque: "Mr. Fish"
VIII. Color Guards
1st Place: plaque: Harford County Sheriff's Department
2nd Place: plaque: American Legion Post #39 Harford County
3rd Place: plaque: Vietnam Veterans of America, Harford County Chapter
IX. Bands, Drum & Bugle Corps, Majorette Corps
1st Place: plaque: New York Skyliners
2nd Place: plaque: Hegeman String Band
X. Notable People / Featured Individuals of Merit and Honor
Most Patriotic: plaque: Miss Maryland Tiffany Jenkins
Best Presentation: plaque: Harford County Miss Fire Prevention Michelle Gallion
Most Popular with the Crowd: Harford County Little Miss Fire Prevention Hailey Miller
Seemed Happiest to Be in the Parade: Harford County Farm Queen Beth Harkins
XI. Judges Awards for Special Merit in the 2003 Parade
C. Milton Wright High School Marching Mustangs
Bel Air High School Marching Bobcats
Philippine Heritage Band
Lehigh Valley Knights
Level Volunteer Fire Company
Smith Family Antique Vehicles
Bruce Wheeler - 1931 Ford
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
Charm City Challengers

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The parade was followed by a patriotic band concert by the Bel Air Community Band with soprano soloist Pam Rinehart, under the direction of C. Scott Sharnetzka. The Band Concert included solos of the National Anthem, God Bless America, and America the Beautiful. The narrator for the concert was Robert Wooters.

After the National Anthem, all those around the entire Bel Air High School complex stood and observed a minute of silence in memory of Patrick Adle.

At the conclusion of the concert came the 2004 fireworks display, sponsored by Har-Co Maryland Federal Credit Union, and produced by Fireworks Productions, Inc. According to Bel Air Police Chief Leo Matrangola, "The earlier rain and wet grounds kept the crowd down, but I still estimate attendance at or around Bel Air High School for the fireworks at easily over 50,000. We had no problems with the crowds, who were on the whole well-behaved and supportive of the event," Matrangola adds. The damp grounds did cause some of the fireworks to fail to ignite, and the planned ground show was cancelled, but over all the fireworks display was judged "very, very satisfying - and really cool to watch!" according to 14-year-old Lindsay Leedy of Bel Air.

Sponsoring Organizations for 2004

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 2004 included:

Founders

A Better Answer
Bel Air Rotary Foundation
Brass & Oak Galleries
Campbell & Nolan Associates, Inc.
Clifton Gunderson, LLP
Dresher Foundation, Inc.
Festival at Bel Air Shopping Center
Forest Hill State Bank
HAR-CO Maryland Federal Credit Union
Jones Junction
Klein's Super Markets
Lions Club of Bel Air
Michael Blum & Associates, Inc., d.b.a. MartinoBlum
Parris-Castoro Eye Care Center
Plaza Ford
Seidenberg Protzko Eye Associates
Town of Bel Air

Patriots

Harford Mutual Insurance Company
Ronnie's Beverage Warehouse

Minutemen

Belair Road Supply Company
BJ's Wholesale Club
Box Hill Pizzeria
E-Z Storage of Bel Air
Frederick Ward Associates, Inc.
Gessner, Snee, Mahoney & Lutche, P.A.
Kefauver's Lumber & Hardware
McComas Funeral Homes, P.A.
Mrs. Flowers Florist
Peppi-Meats, Inc.
Wagner and Sons

Skyrockets

Ashbrook Insurance Services
Courtland Square Building Owners
Dean Insurance Agency, Inc.
Edgewood Corporation
Grove Plumbing & Heating, Inc.
Jarrettsville Federal Savings & Loan
John Philip Insurance Company, Inc.
Law Office of Kevin T. Olszewski, P.A.
Leo R. Handerhan, D.D.S.
Paidon Products Company, Inc.
Smith & Kane, P.A.
Suburban Propane
Towne Barbers, Inc.

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Roman Candles

Baynet Bank
Brown, Brown and Brown, P.A.
Dr. John O. Duguid, D.D.S., P.A.
Harford Bank
Higinbothom Family
Kunkel Service Company
Lin-Mar Development Corporation
Maryland-American Water Company

Firecrackers

American Leg. Aux. Harford Unit #39
Jane Armstrong
William H. Cox, Jr., Real Estate, Inc.
Clarence and Eunice Fry
Handy Stamps for Collectors
Max D. Miller, P.A.
Schlaich, Thompson & Caruso, Chrtd.
Steven C. Levin, D.D.S.
Stark & Keenan, P.A.
Stockson Printing Company
R.C. Vanden Bosche, D.D.S.
W. K. Smith & J. A. Smith, P.A.

Contributors

Carnaggio Family
Law Offices of Getz, Getz & Getz
Jarrettsville Family Care
Margaret Lesch
Margaret S. Daniel

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