By Larry Perl, firstname.lastname@example.org
1:50 PM EDT, July 4, 2013
Nobody was more patriotic Thursday than native Russian Alex Finoggenoff.
Finoggenoff, who became a U.S. citizen in 2011, was literally draped in an American flag. He wore it around his shoulders, matching his red, white and blue T-shirt, as he marched with 400 others in the 17th annual Fourth of July parade from the Roland Park Library to Roland Park Presbyterian Church on the Fourth of July.
"I'm just being patriotic and getting in the right spirit," said Finoggenoff, 38, of Roland Park, a teacher at Barclay Elementary/Middle School in Charles Village. "It feels good. It feels natural."
An estimated 400 people gathered, many of them families with children riding bicycles or in wagons festooned with balloons, streamers and, in one, case, a red, white and blue paper plate. Serving lemon sticks at a table in the median strip on Roland Avenue near the library was Stacy Buckley, director of the Symphony Manor retirement community, who brought along 10 seniors who live there.
Buckley said Symphony Manor comes ever year, "just to be part of the community, meet the neighbors, remind everybody we're here, and of course, bring our residents. So many of our residents are from Roland Park. They've been doing this for years and they wouldn't miss it."
Finoggenoff wasn't the only one dressed patriotically. Henry Hammond, 71, of Roland Park, wore a tie with the Statue of Liberty on it that he bought at a kiosk in New York for $3 five to 10 years ago.
"This is the first time I've worn it," Hammond said.
Keeping with local tradition, State Del. Sandy Rosenberg read an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence on the library steps. Also on hand were Roland Park Civic League President Chris McSherry, City Councilwoman Sharon Greene Middleton, Council President Bernard C. Jack Young and Del. Jill Carter.
Young reminded the crowd not to forget the reason for the holiday, celebrating the nation's independence and freedoms.
"A lot of parades take these liberties for granted," Young said to loud applause.
As the parade began, Middleton said, "Enjoy your stroll through this community and God bless America."
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