Get ready Harford County. The most rip-roarin, explosive holiday of the year is here and, as always, there will be multiple celebrations, parades and fireworks from which to enjoy another memorable Independence Day.
Another big crowd already was on hand for Saturday's 27th annual Darlington Independence Day Parade and fireworks.
Coming Friday are Bel Air's day-long July 4 events culminating in one of the state's biggest parades and fireworks shows. Nearby Kingsville will likewise hold its annual July 4 parade Friday morning.
And there's more to come on Saturday, with the annual Havre de Grace Independence Day Parade and fireworks and the Edgewood/Joppatowne Independence Day Parade that has fast become another Harford tradition.
Although there is a threat of rain Friday from the season's first tropical storm, Bel Air's parade chairman said he is optimistic the parade, fireworks and other events will go on as scheduled.
Friday's full day of patriotic celebrations will include all the traditional events in the morning, followed by the parade and fireworks.
"We have a great parade this year, with about 25 wonderful bands from near and far, and some exciting new units mixed with some old favorites," said parade chairman Michael Blum, who early in the week was still dealing with last-minute requests to enter the parade.
"If you want color-guards, roller-derby skaters, pompom girls, Cub Scouts, Young Marines, baton twirlers, Boumi motorcyclists, contingents of soldiers from APG, monster trucks, floats from local churches and civic groups, local businesses, beauty queens, car dealers and more, all decked out celebrating the 4th of July, this is the parade for you," Blum said.
The Fourth of July in Bel Air gets going with a flag ceremony at Bel Air High School at 6:45 a.m., with "Star Spangled Banner" performed by soprano soloist Pamela Rinehart, followed by the community-favorite Pancake Breakfast at 7 a.m. featuring blueberry pancakes and sausage. Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for children under 10.
To mark the bicentennial of the writing of the national anthem, the Bel Air Independence Day Committee plans flag ceremonies at each of its event locations. A flag ceremony and anthem performed by Rinehart will open the horseshoe pitching fields at Rockfield Park at 7:45 a.m., with registration for the regionally-known competition to follow at 8 a.m.
The Hays House's flag ceremony will feature a performance by The Catherine Street Consort of the original "Star-Spangled Banner" melody, the Anacreontic Song, at 8:45 a.m. As always, there will be music, tours and patriotic children's games.
Rinehart will open the series of events at Shamrock Park, also at 8:45 a.m. The traditional events include face painting, turtle derby and frog jumping contest, Uncle Sam Says and the watermelon eating contest.
The Turtle Derby will also be at 9 a.m. The Great Bel Air Frog Jumping contest is at 10 a.m, with registration at 9:30 a.m. Uncle Sam Says begins at 11 a.m. and a watermelon eating contest at 11:30 a.m.
Following a final performance by Rinehart, the annual Bicycle Rodeo will take place at Bel Air Elementary School on Lee Street at 11 a.m.
At 6 p.m. the parade begins, starting at the intersection of Gordon and North Main streets, proceeding down Main to a conclusion at Idlewild Street.
The day concludes at 9:30 p.m. with fireworks launched from Rockfield Park. Spectators are asked to stay out of marked no-entry zones.
Potential weather impact
"We don't look to have any weather problems," Blum said Thursday afternoon about the potential threat of morning rain Friday from Tropical Storm Arthur.