Arbutus the place to enjoy July Fourth parade

For baseball pitchers as well as real estate agents, the key is location, location, location.

That mantra also held true for the hundreds who lined the parade route through the heart of Arbutus to enjoy the town's annual Fourth of July celebration Thursday afternoon.

Lansdowne native Suzanne Peters said she had been making sure to get a spot near the intersection of East Drive and Linden Avenue that marked the end of the .85 mile route.

Sitting comfortably in the back of the family SUV with her three children, the Arbutus resident enjoyed the shade provided by the vehicle's open rear door.

"It beats sitting in the sun on the road," said Peters.

"Because it's at the end, they're exhausted by the time they get down here. So it's not the best show," said Peters on the impact of the July heat on the marchers, bands and dance units that came from Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania in addition to those from Carroll County and Baltimore.

"But I love the music. The marching bands and the music, that's the best," she said

The spot still provides her children, Hannah, 13, and Juliana, 10, with quick and easy access to the candy thrown to the spectators by those marching in the parade.

Closer to the street, Desiree Gaynor's two daughters, 9-year-old Laila and 6-year-old Chelsi, settled into their chairs for the start of the event.

"The kids," Gaynor said, were the reason the family makes the trip to Arbutus from Randallstown every year for the past five years.

They'll watch the parade, go home to enjoy lunch off the grill, then return to the area to watch the fireworks show in Catonsville, she said.

Further down the parade route, Dave Weigman didn't have to take his seat until the roar of motorcycles driven by members of Dewey Lowman American Legion Post 109 marked the start of the event.

Weigman casually set up a chair in the shade of a tree in the front yard of his home at the corner of East Drive and Poplar Avenue and let the sights and sounds wash over him, as he has done for the past 15 years.

"I like parades," said the native of southwest Baltimore native as he prepared to enjoy the show.

In addition to the performing units, the parade also featured Arbutus Sailorettes and Lansdowne Shooting Stars, area churches, Scout troops, Arbutus Business and Professional Association, the morning's participants in the annual soapbox derby and community groups from Arbutus, Halethorpe and Wynnewood.

There were also appearances by District 12 state delegate candidates Brian Bailey, Terri Hill and Dr. Clarence Lam, as well as U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, Maryland Comptroller Peter Francot, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger, Baltimore County Sheriff R. Jay Fisher and 1st District County Councilman Tom Quirk.

From the shade provided by her stroller, 17-month-old Trista McCadden silently took in the spectacle at the crowded intersection of East Drive and Sulphur Spring Road.

Even the blaring sirens and honking horns of the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department units failed to unsettle her.

This was the first Arbutus Fourth of July parade for her mother, Denise, a Mount Airy native.

But her dad, Scott, said he's been coming to the event, "my whole life."

"I came down every year with my parents and sister," he said of a tradition that goes back more than 30 years. "When I was a kid, it was to get candy and see stuff. As I got older, it got to be a habit."

The annual event is becoming a habit for Relay native Ed Cavey, who has been living on East Drive for three years and is able to enjoy the parade from the comfort of the front yard.

"I never really cared about it until I came here," he said. "But it's a nice tradition, something I look forward to every year."

The event could become a tradition for Dean West, who was enjoying his first Fourth of July parade in Arbutus after moving to the area a week ago.

"I think it's pretty nice," he said." I'm from Prince George's County, so this is my first taste of Baltimore County. It's a good American thing.

"The parade in Greenbelt, that lasts like 15 minutes," he said. "Guess Arbutus did it right."

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