Zoe Funk, 3, looked expectantly down East Drive as the sound of distant sirens promised that the Arbutus Fourth of July Parade would soon be making its way down the street.
Dancing excitedly in place, Zoe turned to hug her 8-month-old sister, Piper, as the first police car came into view.
The girls were surrounded by a sea of festive attire as residents, young and old alike, lined both sides of the street.
"It's the first time I've actually seen it, instead of been in it," said Arbutus resident Shannon Funk, the girls' mother, as she watched nearby with her husband, Brian.
A former baton twirler with the Arbutus Sailorettes, the festivities gave Funk the opportunity to show Zoe what she used to do as a child.
"She hasn't seen a parade (before)," she said.
A short while earlier, there was a dull murmur of anticipation as residents and visitors greeted friends or stopped to buy frozen treats at Rita's Italian Ice, at 5403 East Drive.
American flags hanging from street poles fluttered in a slight breeze that offset Monday afternoon's humidity.
An annual tradition again marked the beginning of the parade as a V formation of four jets from the Maryland Air National Guard flew across the whitish blue sky.
Aaron Tingler smiled shyly as he waved at a procession of vehicles from the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department.
The fire trucks were a parade main highlight for the 6-year-old, who was visiting family members along with his mother, Pasadena resident Maggie Tingler.
"We come every year and we love it," Tingler said.
The day's festivities began at Arbutus Middle School with the annual Firecracker 10k race, which helps Arbutus resident George Kendrick raise the $21,000 needed to run the parade.
The procession began at 12:30 p.m. at the intersection of Oregon Avenue and Elm Road and made its way down Oregon Avenue and East Drive to a parking lot at the end of the street.
Cheerleaders and dancers in bright costumes, politicians, community groups, businesses and numerous fire companies were among the day's highlights.
Parade Marshal Brittany Mallory, an Arbutus native who was a member of the University of Notre Dame women's basketball team that lost, 76-70, to Texas A&M in the 2011 NCAA championship game, waved from a red convertible.
Music filled the air as marching bands from all over the east coast beat their drums in rhythmic precision.
Arbutus resident Chris Pollock clapped her hands in time as dance team members, cheerleaders and a band from nearby University of Maryland, Baltimore County, passed.
The music was a highlight for Pollock, who also enjoyed seeing friends and neighbors.
"I recognize a lot of people in the parade and lot of people sitting on the side as well," she said as she sat in a row of chairs with her daughters, Lauren, 9, a rising fifth-grader at Arbutus Elementary, and Hannah, 7, a rising third-grader.
"It's a nice time to come out and celebrate," she said.
Further along the route, Arbutus resident Sherry Miller watched the festivities as she held hands with her fiancé, Paul Fry.
It was the couple's first time at the parade since moving to the area about a year ago.
Samantha Wilson, 17, and her boyfriend, Lawson Montgomery, 17, who both graduated from Lansdowne High School in June, wrapped their arms around each other as they strolled along the route.
"It's an Arbutus tradition," Montgomery said.
Spencer Dukes, 16, a Pennsylvania resident who used to live in Relay, sat with family members in front of the house where his dad, Joe Dukes, grew up.
"Everybody knows everybody," said Dukes, who described Arbutus as having a small-town atmosphere.
"It's just got that good old-school feeling," he said.
Severn resident Jackie Robinson, who spent part of her childhood in Arbutus, also liked the music.
"It's very exciting, very entertaining and it's a very big social thing" said Robinson, whose daughter, Nicole, 13, performed in the parade as a member of the Sailorettes.
"I just love everything about it," she said.
Arbutus residents Marcy and Corey Spence attended with their daughters, Kaiya, 12, a rising seventh-grader at Sudbrook Magnet Middle School, and Asha, 7, a rising second-grader at Relay Elementary School.
Both girls participated in the parade as members of the Arbutus Golden Eagles cheer squad.
Marcy Spence said the parade reminded her of the small town in Ohio where she grew up.
"It makes me feel like this is home," she said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun