Edgewood and Joppatowne celebrate the 'Fourth on the Fifth' with pirate-themed parade

The skull and crossbones rode high along Joppa Farm Road Saturday evening for the "Pirates of the Caribbean"-themed Edgewood-Joppatowne Independence Day Parade.

There were about 50 entrants in the annual parade, which is held in Edgewood one year and in Joppatowne the next.

Participants included the hometown Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company, top officials from Aberdeen Proving Ground – such as grand marshal Col. Gregory McClinton, the APG garrison commander – motorcycle clubs, marching bands, multiple churches, community groups and youth organizations.

"What a great service; [they're] superheroes in my book!" the parade's emcee, Roosevelt "DJ Relax" Nelson of Edgewood, called as the fire company passed the reviewing stand.

The parade participants followed a one-mile route starting at Shore Drive near the Joppatowne Plaza Shopping Center; they made a right turn on Joppa Farm Road and followed the route to its end near Joppatowne High School.

Spectators lined the route; children played with balloons and families watched from their homes along Joppa Farm Road.

One highlight was the Baltimore Westsiders Marching Band; the red-and-white-clad youth members performed an elaborate routine for the judges, in which they showed their dance, cheerleading and tumbling skills.

"Love the attitude, Westside!" Nelson called out.

The youth and adult members of the Best Buddies Learning Center LLC in Joppa were another highlight as they waved signs against bullying.

"Love the love," Nelson said.

The pirate-themed church, community group and business floats featured adults, children, even dogs, dressed to the nines like Johnny Depp's signature Jack Sparrow pirate captain from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise.

Several floats involved vehicles pulling trailers made up to resemble pirate ships with either the skull and crossbones or colorful sails.

The Harford County chapter of the NAACP, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, was also a participant.

A concert with the nearly all-female Steel Pandemic steel drum band was held in Mariner Point Park after the parade.

Harford County Councilman Dion Guthrie, who represents the Edgewood and Joppa areas, told the crowd after the parade that it was the best and largest parade the community has had.

"We can't do it without all the cooperation of the citizens," Guthrie said.

Guthrie wished the community a "happy Fourth on the Fifth."

Rachel and Steve Brzezenski's son, Noah, recently turned 1, and the Joppatowne residents celebrated by bringing him to Saturday's parade.

Rachel said they typically see her hometown's Independence Day parade in Kingsville, but they decided to visit the Edgewood-Joppatowne event this year, which had the added bonus of being within walking distance of their home.

""We'll never not miss this," Rachel said. "I'll tell you what, this has made our entire weekend."

She and her husband noticed the parade seemed to be the largest yet for Joppatowne and Edgewood based on the number of people involved.

"It just shows how many people care about the community," Steve said.

The parade and concert are put on by the volunteer Edgewood Joppatowne Independence Day Committee Inc. organization.

Sue Heselton, the contract chair and lead organizer, said 50 participants is a typical number for entrants, but she noted the parade seemed bigger this year because there were more people involved per entrant.

"The kids really went for the theme of 'Pirates of the Caribbean,' " Heselton said.

She said she hopes more businesses will get involved in future parades and "present themselves to the community," which allows residents who would not see them during their busy day-to-day lives to be made aware of the local businesses.

Verangela Christy of Edgewood caught the end of the parade with her 6-year-old daughter, Anastasia.

Christy said she usually visits the Bel Air or Havre de Grace parades.

"It was nice to see a larger turnout," she said of the Edgewood-Joppatowne parade.

Anastasia said her favorite parts were "clown pirates" and the people who squirted water on the crowd from floats.

"All in all, it wasn't bad," Christy said. "I'm pretty pleased.

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