Bel Air brings out the crowds for annual July 4 parade

A sunny, unseasonably cool day brought out the crowds to Bel Air's Main Street early Friday evening for a high-spirited Independence Day parade that celebrated schools, businesses, politicians and talent from Bel Air and beyond.

The procession, which went south from Gordon Street toward Route 22, featured everything from miniature ponies and stilt-walkers to jugglers on unicycles and off-roading Jeeps.

Floats represented groups like the Harford County Public Library, Oak Grove Baptist Church and Bahai's of Bel Air.

The parade included some political candidates this year, notably current Harford County Council members Chad Shrodes, Jim McMahan and Mary Ann Lisanti.

Nancy Jacobs, who just stepped down as state Senator, also had a float thanking her constituents.

Reprisals of "America the Beautiful," meanwhile, seemed to be a theme among the many marching bands, which came from Pennsylvania and as far as Georgia.

Other colorful groups included the roller derby team Harford County Hellions and the Classic Corvette Club.

The throngs of people who packed the streets seemed to enjoy the breezy, mid-70-degree day. They cheered loudly for the Ravens fan bus and Miss Harford County Fire Loss Prevention, whose float featured a halo of bubbles.

"I haven't been here in 10 years and it feels like home," Lisa Armstrong, of Aberdeen, said, explaining she grew up in Bel Air.

She came with Grayson Armstrong and their 4-year-old son, Atom.

"I remember it being big and fun, and this is pretty much what everyone is doing, having fun," Lisa Armstrong said of the parade.

"It's always so much diversity, too," she added. "It's just cool seeing everyone come together."

Besides the parade, the family had a cookout earlier and planned to head to the fireworks over Rockfield Park, as did many other people.

Tom and Jennifer Taylor, meanwhile, said they come to the parade every year.

"It's kind of like a family tradition," Tom Taylor said about his Jarrettsville family.

They came with three children, 1-year-old Emma, 6-year-old Ryder and 9-year-old Colton.

Ryder said he liked "the stuff they blow, the bagpipes. That's my favorite." He also liked the military vehicles.

"We have been coming for 13 years," Jennifer Taylor said, adding sometimes they go to the fireworks.

"We like it just because it's your small-town, Americana parade," she explained.

Two Bel Air women, Errka Sayer and Jessica Santome, said they just decided to drop in on the event.

"We didn't have anything better to do," Santome said, as Sayer added it was a nice day.

Chris and Christina Moore, who came with 2-month-old Kate and 8-year-old Collin, said it was their first time.

They decided to see what the excitement was about after their friends invited them.

The Bel Air couple called it "a great parade" and said they also planned to watch the fireworks at The John Carroll School.

"It's cute," Christina Moore said.

"It's just a lot bigger than I thought," Chris Moore added.

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