Bel Air, Maryland: The July 4th, 2015, Independence Day events in Bel Air, Maryland, offered fun, patriotic splendor, and educational interest to citizens of the entire region, all during a day that featured heavy rains in the morning, but nice and dry conditions for the parade and fireworks.

Tens of thousands of citizens from the greater Bel Air area, across Harford County, and even beyond, participated and enjoyed the traditional small-town events on Saturday, July 4th, 2015, culminating with the annual parade and fireworks display. The theme for the day was "An 'Olde-Fashioned Fourth of July.' "

Events got underway at 6:45 am at Bel Air High School with the flag raising ceremony, featuring Disabled American Veterans Chapter 30 and American Legion Bel Air Post 39, assisted by bugler Robert Hudson. The National Anthem was sung by Miss Bel Air 2015 Shanice Lewis. Ms. Lewis also sang the National Anthem at three other venues during the day: at Rockfield Park to start the Horseshoe Pitching contest; at Shamrock Park to start the family and children's events; and at Bel Air Elementary School to start the Bicycle Rodeo.

The traditional pancake and sausage breakfast was held at Bel Air High School, in which 1,858 adults and children partook of the pancakes, blueberry pancakes, juice and sausages cooked and prepared by over 50 volunteers from the Bel Air Lions, under the direction of Harold Boccia.

During the morning, the Hays House was open to visitors, and offered guided tours of the historic facility. All guests enjoyed the historical music played by Catherine Street Consort.

In the week leading up to July 4th, the Bel Air Independence Day Committee distributed 20,000 free programs listing all events and containing useful information about the 4th of July in Bel Air. The program's front cover illustration was chosen by a contest open to all Harford County students. The winning design was submitted by Lilly Kuemmel of Bel Air, a student at Homestead-Wakefield Elementary School. The official program was designed and produced by Michael Blum.

A full roster of daytime competitive events were held at various locations in the Town of Bel Air. Due to heavy rains at times during morning, several events were moved from their designated locations to under the band shell overhang in Shamrock Park. As a result of the weather, some of the winners' names were lost or the sheets on which they were written were destroyed by the rain. The Independence Day Committee apologizes for this. The results that were recovered were as follows:

Horseshoe Pitching (Rockfield Park): 69 participants

Women's Singles: 1st Place: Vicki Smith of Darlington

2nd Place: Kim Panzer of Parkville

Women's Doubles: 1st Place: Velma Schleicher and Bonnie Schleicher of Bel Air

2nd Place: Vicki Smith and Bre Smith of Darlington

Men's Singles: 1st Place: Ricky Morrison of Street

2nd Place Chris Raab of Bel Air

Men's Doubles: 1st Place: Mark Miller and Colin Miller of Bel Air

2nd Place: James Stewart of Baltimore and John Harr of Myrtle Beach, SC

Turtle Derby (Shamrock Park): 98 turtles were registered

1st Place, Box Turtles: Ashlyn Davis (owner) of Edgewood

1st Place, Aquatic Turtles: Kyle Basco of Bel Air (and his turtle, Louie)

Frog Jumping (Shamrock Park): 130 frogs were registered

1st Place: Cade Walker (owner)

2nd Place: Luke Dippel (owner)

3rd Place: Korynn Sim (owner)

Bicycle Rodeo (Bel Air Elementary School): 35 children participated and trophies were given in several age groups, but all results were lost.

Uncle Sam Says (Shamrock Park): Ages 5-7:

1st Place: George Scott, Jr., from Bel Air

2nd Place: Sienna Klima from Forest Hill

3rd Place: Ava Whitney, Arnold, Maryland

Ages 8-10:

1st Place: Hailey Autry from Joppa

2nd Place: Elon Nolan from Bel Air

3rd Place: Annabel Everett from Bel Air

Ages 11-13:

1st Place: D'Montae Vilgrain from Columbia, MD

2nd Place: Rachel Kennedy from Bel Air

3rd Place: Chris Kennedy from Bel Air

Ages 14+:

1st Place: Sandrine Goodey from Parkville, MD

2nd Place: Daini Suaib from Silver Spring, MD

3rd Place: Victoria Manzo from Bel Air

Watermelon Eating Contest (Shamrock Park):

Ages 6 and under:

1st Place: Rowen Liles from Bel Air

2nd Place: Davy Mudrick from Forest Hill

3rd Place: Grayson Stump from Bel Air

Ages 7-10:

1st Place: Luke Dennis from Fallston

2nd Place: Malaki Meadows from Fawn Grove, PA

3rd Place: Elon Nolan from Bel Air

Ages 11-16:

1st Place: Gracyn Meisz from Street

2nd Place: Jack Dennis from Fallston

3rd Place: Israel Nolan from Bel Air

Ages 17+:

1st Place: Jeffrey Campbell from Bel Air

2nd Place: Jimmy Hoyt from Bel Air

3rd Place: Brooks Parsons from Bel Air

After a recess for the afternoon, during which the rain finally stopped, the traditional parade began at 6:00 pm at the intersection of South Main Street and Idlewild Avenue on the south side of Bel Air -- the first time the parade had ever started from that point, which was previously the ENDING point. The parade was greeted with approval by an estimated crowd of 45,000 spectators, who lined the parade route all the way to North Main Street and Gordon Street!

"I thought it was one of the largest crowds we've ever had," says Don Stewart, President of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee.

" Reviewing stand narration was provided by Don Morrison, helped by text messaging Parade Marshals Brent Cozby and Alex Krowzow.

Many of the parade units were sponsored by area businesses. Banners in the parade celebrating these sponsors were carried by members of the Fountain Green Swim Club, under the direction of David Williams.

Parade sponsors included: Balsamo, Stewart, Lutters & Ruth, CPAs

Buontempo Brothers/Tower Restaurant

Festival at Bel Air Shopping Center

HAR-CO Credit Union

Jarrettsville Federal Savings & Loan

Jones Junction Auto Dealerships

Klein's ShopRite of Maryland

Plaza Ford

PNC Bank

TD Bank

Six independent Parade Judges viewed the parade, whose theme was "An Olde-Fashioned Fourth of July!", and awarded the following prizes:


1st place - Society of Italian American Businessmen

2nd place - Bel Air Lions Club

3rd place - Military Sacrifice Float

4th place - Harford Christian School

Equestrian Units:

1st place - America In Miniature

2nd place - Benchfield Farms

3rd place - Uncle Miltie's Halflingers

The Harford County High School Trophy: C. Milton Wright School

Guest Bands:

1st place - Fusion Core Band

2nd place - Carolina Gold Drum and Bugle Corps

3rd place - Skyliners Band

Antique Vehicles:

1st place - Smith Family

2nd place - 1962 Military Jeep Roy Clark

3rd place - 1914 Indian Motorcycle

Color Guard:

1st place - 20th CBRNE Command

2nd place - Bel Air Chapter 30 Disabled Veterans

3rd place - Harford County Detachment 1198, Marine Corps League

Mobile Units:

1st place - Alpha Omega 4x4 off Road Club

2nd place - Bel Air Corvette Club

3rd place - Md. State Police Alumni Association

4th place - Edible Arrangements

Marching Units:

1st place - Center for the Arts

2nd place - Cub Scout Pack 807

3rd place - Active Day

Emergency Services:

1st place - Joppa Magnolia VFC and Cadets

2nd place - Fawn Grove VFC

Comic/Novelty Acts:

1st place - Buontempo Brothers

2nd place - Ravens Nest #1 & the Hons

Most Unique Entry: Michael Rosman's Amazing Feats of Comedy and Circus Camp Stars!

Notable Persons:

Most Patriotic - Little Fire Chief - Andrew Deckard

Best Presentation - Miss MSFA Fire Prevention runner up Gabrielle Kerby

Most Popular with Crowd - Little Miss Fire Prevention Charlotte Denbow

Most Admired Entry - HCPS Teacher of the Year Mrs. Laura Potter

Judges Awards for Special Merit:

Baha'is of Bel Air

4H of Harford - Harford Stockyards

Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company

John F. Nicoll Pipes and Drums

Reading Buccaneers Drum and Bugle Corps

Bel Air Community Band

Titans Drum Corps

1932 Ford Dump Truck (Corbin Fuel)

The Baltimore All-Stars Drum & Majorette Corps

The parade ended at about 8:00 pm, and after a recess of about 90 minutes, the 2015 fireworks were shot off from Rockfield Park. Spectators lined the streets and filled permitted areas at Rockfield Manor, John Carroll School, the Bel Air Parking Garage, and many other venues.

Before the fireworks, the crowd at Rockfield Manor was serenaded by patriotic music, thanks to a donation by Sound System Sponsor First National Bank. The fireworks show began at 9:30 on the dot and lasted 23 minutes, ending with a "Finale" that featured several new "screamer" effects and high arching pyrotechnics.

The display was greeted with cheers and applause by the large crowds.

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Parade Results

6 independent Parade Judges viewed the parade, whose theme was 200 Star-Spangled Years!, and awarded the following prizes (see bottom of list for information about receiving your PRIZE):

   1st Place: Central Christian
   2nd Place: Battle of North Point
   3rd Place: IntheGlow
   4th Place: Bel Air Lions Club

Equestrian Units:
   1st Place: Uncle Milty's Halflingers
   2nd Place: Verna White / America in Miniature
   3rd Place: Benchfield Farms
   4th Place: Timmy Hurley/Lexie Palmer

THE HARFORD COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL 2014 BEL AIR JULY 4TH PARADE TROPHY, awarded to the Harford County high school marching band that, in the eyes and ears of our judges, performs the best, goes to C. Milton Wright High School Marching Mustangs Band.

   1st Place: Fusion Core
   2nd Place: Reading Buccaneers
   3rd Place: Skyliners

Antique Vehicles:
   1st Place: Home Paramount 1939 Ford
   2nd Place: Corbin Fuel
   3rd Place: Maryland State Troopers Alumni Association

Color Guards:
   1st Place: The APG Contingent: Brigadier General Bruce T. Crawford, CG APG & Dianne Crawford; Sgt. Major Kennis J. Dent, CSM APG & Gloria Dent; Colonel Gregory R. McClinton, Garrison Commander, APG & Vicky McClinton + Garrison Command Sergeant Major Jeffrey O. Adam; Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic Honor Guard
   2nd Place: Harford County Marine Corps League
   3rd Place: Harford County Sheriff's Department

Mobile Units:
   1st Place: Center for the Arts
   2nd Place: Harford Christian
   3rd Place: Stonewall Day Care Center
   4th Place: Gina Kazimir
   5th Place: Alpha Omega 4x4 Off-road Club and Christian Ministry

Marching Units:
   1st Place: Bel Air Terps Youth Football
   2nd Place: Jarrettsville Young Marines
   3rd Place: Applause of Bel Air

Emergency Services Units:
   1st Place: Joppa/Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company
   2nd Place: Level Volunteer Fire Company

Comic/Novelty Acts:
   1st Place: Raven "Fan Man," the "Bus Boys" and the RavHons
   2nd Place: Michael Rosman's Harford Globe Trotters
   3rd Place: Buontempo Brothers Pizza Slice Man and Friends

"Notable Persons":
   Most Patriotic: Miss Bel Air 2014 Cynthia Ford
   Best Presentation: 2014 Little Fire Chief Ayden Eyre
   Most Popular with the Crowd: 2014 Miss Fire Prevention Kaelyn Suit
   Most Admired Entry: 2014 Program Cover Contest Winner Maya Feick

Judges' Awards for Entries of Special Merit:
   Edgewood High School Marching Band
   Nancy Jacobs Family Float
   Boxwood Farms
   Sun Devils Drum & Bugle Corps
   Miss Black-Eyed Susan Katerina Rice
   Hall's Septic Services Suck-Up Squad
   Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, Inc.

Winners of awards in the parade are contacted by official letter from the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc., sent to the mailing address given by the entrant on its application, regarding delivery of prizes. Please do not call the Committee answering service.

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The evening ended with a grand fireworks display, sponsored by HARFORD MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY. The launch site was Rockfield park, on a height by East Churchville Road.

Sponsoring Organizations for 2014

The Bel Air Auxiliary Police Unit
The Bel Air Lions
The Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, Inc.
The Town of Bel Air

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