Havre de Grace, which is no stranger to a good time, was at its festive best Saturday with the city's annual Independence Day parade and carnival.
"We enjoyed it," Sean Sullivan of North East said as he sat with his son, Sam, 8, and daughter Katie, 3, and watched the parade go by along Union Avenue. "It's a pretty impressive turnout."
The children waved American flags at the many high school bands from Harford County and the wider Baltimore metro area, fire trucks and ambulances, military vehicles, vintage cars and floats representing Havre de Grace attractions, such as the Steppingstone Museum and the Concord Point Lighthouse, plus local and regional businesses such as a giant cow representing the Turkey Hill dairy company, based in Lancaster County, Pa.
"The different variety of the things that they have here, [we] really enjoy it," Sullivan said.
Kelly Randall of Bel Air was nearby along Union Avenue; she came with her daughter and grandchildren.
"The candy throwing to the kids is a huge hit with the kids," she said, referring to candy being thrown from floats.
Randall, along with some other parade-goers, favored Havre de Grace's parade over Bel Air's Independence Day parade, which was Friday evening and drew throngs of people to Main Street downtown.
"It just seems more festive," said Randall, who was attending her first Havre de Grace Independence Day parade.
Crowds similar in size to Bel Air's were spread along Havre de Grace's main drag of Union Avenue. Families from throughout the metropolitan area sat along the sidewalk, and Union Avenue residents watched from their front porches.
Crowds also watched the front porch of the Vandiver Inn and the University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital parking garage.
Featured marching bands included those representing local high schools, Calvert Hall College High School in Towson, various bagpipe bands, the Baltimore Ravens' marching band and the Carolina Gold Drum & Bugle Corps of Greensboro, N.C.
The parade participants headed south on Union to Tydings Park, the site of a carnival that began Tuesday and ended Saturday with a fireworks show and a concert from the band Head Rush.
The events are put on by Havre de Grace Celebration Inc.
The grand marshals for the parade were John Narvell and Jim Nemeth, longtime volunteers for the Havre de Grace Recreation Committee. Narvell is the president and Nemeth is the treasurer of the committee.
Bnai Johnson of Havre de Grace watched her 2-year-old daughter, Taylor, and Taylor's friend Kennae White, 4, wave American flags.
"It's good; it's OK," said Johnson, who grew up with the parade. "As long as my kids enjoy it, I enjoy it."
Charles Austin of Bel Air and his companion, Ruth Law of Aberdeen, said they enjoyed the many bands, as well as the military tributes.
"Good patriotism," Austin said. "It's good spirit."
Law, who also attended Bel Air's parade, said Havre de Grace's was better "overall."
She said Havre de Grace did not have as many cars and politicians.
"I don't think people come to see so many politicians and cars and things," Law said.
The Havre de Grace parade, similar to other local parades in an election year, had its share of incumbent politicians seeking to remain in office and candidates trying to unseat them.
Larry Hogan, Maryland's Republican gubernatorial nominee, walked down Union shaking hands with people in the crowd; he was preceded by a massive campaign RV.
His former primary opponent, Havre de Grace native and Harford County Executive David Craig, walked with him.
Cheryl Nikirk of Severn brought her three daughters to Havre de Grace Saturday. Her girls, Neva, 9, Rachel, 6 and Lyndsey, 5, talked about a variety of things they liked about the parade, including dancers, dressed-up dogs and the GEICO gecko.
Lyndsey was also looking forward to the evening events.
"I love the fireworks!" she said.
Nikirk said she brought her daughters to Havre de Grace after learning from a friend that the friend's daughter would be performing with the Ravens' marching band.
"We thought we'd check it out," she said. "We like fireworks and carnivals and parades."
Carolyn Narvell, a parade organizer, called Saturday's parade "one of our best parades ever, and that's because of the weather."
The skies were clear Saturday, and temperatures were in the 80s.
"We're very grateful for everybody that participated," Narvell said.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun