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Braving the heat, parade-goers are rewarded with good show in Havre de Grace Saturday

The throngs of Independence Day parade-goers lining South Union Avenue crowded under any patch of shade they could find to ease the stress of the low-90-degree temperatures in Havre de Grace Saturday afternoon.

Drink vendors James Barnes and Holden Schwartz were not keeping still, however. They, and their fellow vendors of beverages and other goods, hustled along the one-mile parade route selling bottles of water and sodas to grateful spectators.

"Sales have been going well," Barnes said. "The heat's definitely helped."

Barnes' and Schwartz' top selling items were their $1 bottles of water, which they hauled in a cooler in a wagon along Union. The proceeds went to their church, Bethel Apostolic Church of Havre de Grace.

"We're having trouble making it all the way down to the other end of town, before we sell all of our bottles of water, so we're constantly having to go back for more," Barnes said.

The parade route ran along Union from the intersection with Warren Street south to Tydings Park.

More than 120 music, dance and majorette entrants were registered for the parade, and many additional military, fire, law enforcement and local business entrants could be seen during the nearly two-and-a-half-hour extravaganza.

People along Union stood and cheered, and in some cases personally thanked soldiers as they walked by or rode in military vehicles toward the entrance to Tydings Park, where the annual Independence Day carnival would be in full swing Saturday evening.

The carnival had been held each night since Tuesday; visitors to Havre de Grace were also treated to a concert from classic rock band Alton Street in the City Yacht Basin in Tydings Park, and a fireworks show after sunset that lit up the sky over the carnival.

The activities were all part of the 2013 Independence Celebration, put on by the nonprofit Havre de Grace Independence Celebration Inc.

'Best Parade'

"This is the best parade," Sandra Raisin of Baltimore said.

Raisin, who grew up in Aberdeen and had attended the Havre de Grace parade since childhood, watched Saturday's parade from Union Avenue along with her daughter, Shannon, and her friend, Deonte Smith.

"We come up every year, just for the parade and fraternization [with friends and family]," she said.

Shannon Raisin, 22, who also lives in the Baltimore area, said Havre de Grace's parade was the best out of other Independence Day parades she had seen in the metropolitan region.

"I prefer this parade out of all the ones I've been to for the Fourth, so I don't mind the ride out here," she said. "It's fun, it's entertaining, it has a lot to see."

Smith also enjoyed the festivities, which included a slew of musical acts.

"They've had five bands so far that I've seen, that I've enjoyed," he said.

The musical groups included high school bands from around Harford and neighboring counties, and throughout the country, such as the Marching Knights of St. Michael-Albertville High School in Minnesota.

Bands, floats, fun

A number of community bands, the Baltimore Ravens Marching Band, fife and drum groups and bagpipers also took part in Saturday's parade.

The region's businesses contributed floats, including Lancaster County, Pa.-based Turkey Hill with a giant cow float in honor of its ice cream and other dairy products, and the Legends of the Fog "haunted attraction" of Aberdeen, which featured a haunted cabin and people walking alongside it dressed in ghoulish costumes.

Sandra Raisin said she planned to attend the evening festivities as well.

"What could be better, food, friends and fireworks," she remarked.

Summer Tucker of Charlestown in Cecil County, her mother Jennifer and other friends and family gathered under a tent on the front lawn of a house in the 700 block of Union Avenue, a home owned by friends.

Summer Tucker said Saturday was her first time at the Havre de Grace parade since her childhood.

"It was good," she said as the parade wrapped up. "I like to see all the younger kids getting involved [in the parade]."

Tonya Buchanan of Elkton, a friend of Summer Tucker's, lauded the military members who took part.

"We're proud of the military out there," she said. "That's really nice."

Down in the park

As the sun crept lower in the sky, the crowds shifted toward Tydings park for the carnival, concert and fireworks, and they were joined by those who came for the night activities.

The carnival's Ferris wheel and other rides remained lit up and running as the colorful fireworks illuminated the night sky.

Every parking space that was available on grassy fields, business lots and side streets off of Revolution Street and Union was taken, and a number of people watched the fireworks from their balconies or yards.

Janae Hall, 18, of Abingdon, and her sister Janaya Allen, 13, said the carnival and fireworks were worth the trip.

"I love it," Hall said. "I love the colors; I love everything."

Janaya said Havre de Grace's celebration is "way bigger than any other" Independence Day celebration in Harford County.

Joe Boman of Baltimore, his fiance Melania Davis, sister Janae Dancy of Aberdeen and her 7-month-old son, DeMarcus, looked out over the carnival grounds after the fireworks.

"I come all the way out here from [Baltimore] to see the fireworks and the carnival," Boman said. "It's fun, come out, spend time with the family."

Dancy said she enjoyed rides such as the Street Fighter, which swung riders back and forth at dizzying angles.

"He liked the fireworks," she said of her son.

Davis called the fireworks "nice and loud and colorful."

Davis previously lived in Harford County and enjoyed the Havre de Grace Independence Day festivities.

"I just like that they have it every year," she said. "It's something nice for Harford County."

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