Towson will celebrate the red, white and blue from morning till night on Monday, July 4.

The Towson Area Fourth of July Parade kicks off on Bosley Avenue at Towsontown Boulevard at 10:30 a.m. with 16 marching bands and 100 units.

"You don't want to miss this truly American event," said parade program coordinator Jackie Sims.

"The parade honors our military, celebrates our diversity and makes us a better community. Everybody is happy. They can cheer and clap their hands and just be joyful."

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Fun aside, "the parade is our chance to say 'thank you' to the men and women who have served our country so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today," said parade committee chairwoman Maryann Albaugh. "Many could not be with us today because they have made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives."

The parade features military units, including mounted U.S. Cavalry personnel, and this year, the families of deployed soldiers will be marching as well.

The procession also includes traditional favorites such as the Ravens Marching Band, the Reading (Pa.) Buccaneers and the Kiltie Bank of York, with a St. Andrew's Society color guard.

In addition, spectators will see up-close a race car that will be participating in the Inaugural 2011 Baltimore Grand Prix during Labor Day Weekend.

The race car, which comes with girls dressed as a pit crew, will be on a flat bed truck because the high-powered fuel it takes to start its engine would be a safety hazard, according to Judy Gregory, who is in charge of the line-up.

The all-volunteer committee that puts on the event each year strongly suggests that spectators arrive early for the parade. They'll be able to enjoy live music and ceremonies at the parade reviewing stands on Bosley and on Washington Avenue beginning at 9:45 a.m.

The National Anthem and other patriotic songs will be sung, and local Holocaust survivor Deli Strummer will lead the Pledge of Allegiance to celebrate her 66th year of liberation.

The Maryland National Guard A-10 flyover, which roars overhead precisely at 15 seconds past 10:24 a.m., is the tip off that the parade is about to begin.

At 10:30 a.m. the bike rush of youngsters and their decorated bikes tricks and strollers clears the way, and the nearly two-hour procession marches forth, north on Bosley, east on Allegheny Avenue and south on Washington Avenue to Chesapeake Avenue.

The fun continues that night with fireworks launched from the grounds of Loch Raven Technical Academy after dusk.

The day-long celebration is free. The $9,500 fireworks display is a gift from the Loch Raven Village community association, and the parade is funded by donations from businesses, organizations and residents.

"It's always a struggle very year to raise the $30,000 it take to put the parade on," said parade committee chairman Maryann Albaugh."We're grateful to the generous sponsors and donators who have made the event possible this year."

Major donors are Towson American Legion Post 22, Towson Chamber of Commerce, Bank of America, Jerry's Chevrolet, M&T Bank and CFG Bank.

But "the bucket brigade" on the day of the parade is just as important when it comes to the money needed to fund the annual parade.

That's when members of the committee or their representatives go though the crowds asking for donations.

"We're trying something different this year," said Sims. "Instead of passing the bucket during the parade, we're going to do it before the parade begins when we have a captive audience.