It takes an active and dedicated committee, scores of volunteers and a significant budget to pull off the annual Towson Fourth of July parade.
But even with all that, it takes something extra to truly get Towson's Independence Day celebration off on the right foot: kids on wheels.
Towson's parade is scheduled for the morning of July 4, beginning at 10:30 a.m. But the kickoff of festivities — at least for the past 14 years — has been the bike rush, which will gather at 9 a.m. before the start of the parade.
The bike rush leads the parade through downtown Towson, and last year more than 135 bikes, scooters, wagons and strollers set out on the parade route, decorated in their finest red, white and blue.
Maryann Albaugh, chairwoman of the 2012 Towson Fourth of July Parade Committee, called the bike rush a "unique part of the parade," and said it contributes greatly in giving Towson's festivities a hometown flavor.
Participants for the 15th annual Bike Rush — which is open to all — are asked to gather at the Towson University Health Center parking lot at 9 a.m. on the day of the parade — the lot is across Burke Avenue from the Marriott Burkshire Conference Center.
Committee members and volunteers from Trader Joe's will be on site to assist with families with decorating and forming the group into a marching unit.
"We're very happy Trader Joe's is again sponsoring the bike rush with balloons and volunteers," Albaugh said.
Children are invited to join the procession and decorate their bikes with balloons, ribbons, flags, crepe paper or other materials.
Bikers must be accompanied by a parent. The route is 1.4 miles long, beginning at Bosley Avenue and Towsontown Boulevard, proceeding north to Allegheny Avenue, then to Washington Avenue. It officially ends west of Susquehanna Avenue near the Baltimore County Police Towson Precinct.
The route takes about 25-30 minutes.
The bike rush is just one aspect of the 2012 Towson Fourth of July parade.
The parade will include scores of marching units, floats, bands and dignitaries, including co-grand marshals Dr. Cyril Byron Sr. and Lemuel Lewis Jr. — two Tuskegee Airmen who are Baltimore County residents.
The parade will feature a special focus on Rodgers Forge as its "spotlight" community, and will also engage the crowd in an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for blowing bubbles just before the start of the parade.
The Towson Fourth of July Parade officially kicks off at 10:30 a.m. at Bosley and Burke avenues.
On the morning of the parade, parking in municipal garages at Washington, Chesapeake and Virginia avenues will be free. Parking is also available at the Towson Commons for $5.
The parade is organized solely through community efforts and support. Volunteers, donations and sponsorships are still being gathered for this year's event.
For information, call 410-832-2190 or go to http://www.towsonparade.org.
Frank event benefits Fourth parade
State Del. Bill Frank will host a fundraiser and Flag Day event on Thursday, June 14, 6:30-9:30 p.m., at the Towson American Legion Hall, 125 York Road, Towson. Tickets are $140 each; $75 for couples, and include dinner.
The event is a fundraiser for Frank, whose 42nd district includes Towson, but also raises money for the Towson Fourth of July parade. The Republican delegate has pledged $2,500 to the parade committee from proceeds. For details, call 410-440-3581.