The Towson Fourth of July Parade supplied an uplifting mix of patriotism and local flavor for the thousands who lined the streets of downtown Towson Thursday afternoon.
"I think it was a good mix of local bands, out-of-town bands, and it has a really good patriotic flavor this year, more so than in years past," Del. Bill Frank, who represents District 42 and is on the parade committee, said.
With a strong breeze and sporadic cloud cover shielding the parade-goers from the typical heat and humidity that annually blesses the parade, residents were treated to a variety of entertaining parade fare.
Historic Anneslie was the parade's featured community, and representatives from each of the 48 congregations at the Assistance Center of Towson Churches served as the parade's Grand Marshalls.
Jim and Michele Cline, of Anneslie, walked with their 10-year-old daughter Ellie and six-year-old son Evan.
They typically are out of town for the Fourth of July, Jim Cline said, but they were lucky enough to be home and march with dozens of members of their community on Thursday.
Michele Cline said the neighborhood was so enthusiastic that the first group of marchers filled in less than two hours, spurring organizers to allow more Anneslie residents a chance to march in the parade.
There were the politicians—everyone from US Senator Barbara Mikulski down to the Baltimore County Sheriff Jay Fisher—and corporate promotional characters like the Geico Gecko and the Chik-Fil-A Cow.
But some of the largest cheers of the day went to one of the first groups to march in the parade—a group of post-Sept. 11 war veterans.
Nic Hall, 24, grew up in Towson and is currently in the Marine Reserves. Hall said the group was organized through a veteran's networking group that meets at the Americana bar in Canton, and is affiliated with Towson University.
All along the parade route, which went down Bosley, Allegeheny, and Washington avenues, the veterans received a standing ovation.
The parade also honored several other groups that helped preserve America's independence, including a group of Rosie the Riveters, a group honoring the Buffalo Soldiers, and several American Legion marching bands.
Fittingly, one local group was greeted as reverently as the veterans and servicemen — Baltimore's Marching Ravens. Just as they did when the American flag passed by, many along the parade route stood to honor the band.
Many local bands marched as well, including the Calvert Hall marching band. Jillian Bauersfeld, who brought three-month-old Noah to his first parade with her older son, two-year-old Will, said the Cardinals band was the highlight of her own first Towson parade.
Bauersfeld and her husband, John, both teach at Calvert Hall, and said they were proud to see the school's band march past.
However, a pre-parade incident put a damper on the event for the parade's dozens of volunteers. Frank said that longtime volunteer and Parade Committee Co-Chair Jackie Sims fell before the parade and injured her knee.
Frank said the entire parade community was praying for a speedy recovery.
"I know she's probably laying in a hospital bed, thinking about every little detail," Frank said. "But we're thinking about her."