The Bel Air Independence Day Committee is eagerly seeking floats, marching units, antique cars and comic/novelty acts to join the area's Fourth of July celebration.
Local businesses and organizations can be part of the fun as well, with their own entry appearing in front of tens of thousands lining the parade route through downtown Bel Air.
"Our parade is an annual tradition for thousands of local residents, and we work hard to make sure the parade is a terrific, fun-filled event for all involved," parade chairman Michael Blum said. "But we can't do it without you!"
The theme for 2013 is "Celebrating America's Volunteers," and entrants are encouraged to decorate or craft their entry to illustrate or embody that theme. The deadline for applying to join the parade is Friday, June 14.
To apply to join the parade, visit the committee's web site, http://www.belairjuly4.org/innerpages/parade.html. The entry form and all needed information may be found there; no entry forms are mailed.
For more information call 410-879-4245, or find the Bel Air Independence Day Committee on Facebook or on Twitter @belairjuly4.
This year's July 4th celebration will offer citizens of the entire region a full panoply of fun, educational interest, patriotic splendor and exciting spectacle, lasting all day Thursday, July 4, and unified by the theme.
The Bel Air Independence Day Committee, a volunteer community organization, must by itself raise all the funds necessary to hold the day-long event by securing business, community, municipal and individual donations.
Local and area businesses are urged in these challenging economic times to not allow Bel Air's traditionally expansive and inclusive celebration to falter. All contributions are gratefully accepted, and contributing businesses are listed in the 20,000 programs which are distributed in the week before the event and thanked in person from the reviewing stand during the parade.
According to Donald W. Stewart, president of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Harford Mutual Insurance Company again has committed to being the premier sponsor of the event by underwriting the Bel Air July 4 Fireworks Show.
"We're also looking to increase our band sponsorships," Blum, also the vice president of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, said. "A parade sponsorship costs $1,500, and the sponsor gets to choose from the 20-plus bands we bring to the parade, including most of the Harford County high school marching bands, several prominent prize-winning out-of-state bands, regional drum and bugle corps. and more. It's a great way to highlight your business in front of 50,000 Harford County citizens. The parade provides a sponsor banner to precede the band, announces the sponsorship in press releases, in the program and from the reviewing stand."
In addition to band sponsorships, local businesses and citizens are asked to consider sponsoring the program itself, or simply contributing to the effort.
According to Stewart, "We are hugely grateful to the citizens and businesses of Bel Air and the surrounding areas for their generosity and support over the past decades, without which we would not have been able to stage these patriotic events. We can't say this enough - we know times are hard, but we're counting on the greater Bel Air and Harford County community to help us make July 4th, 2013, as great as it can be."
Businesses and organizations can find complete sponsorship information on the committee's web site, which also includes lists of sponsors, photos and information on past July 4 celebrations.
As for the event itself, plans include a full day of traditional small-town-American fun and festivities. The 4th of July begins with the flag-raising ceremony at 6:45 a.m. at Bel Air High School, with the "Star Spangled Banner" sung by Miss Bel Air 2013 Laura Patnaude, followed by the traditional Blueberry Pancake and Sausage Breakfast at 7 a.m. A full roster of daytime events follows lasting until 1 p.m.; these are in Shamrock Park, the Bel Air library parking lot, the Hays House and in Rockfield Park. Events include horseshoe pitching, Uncle Sam Says, bicycle rodeo, watermelon eating contest and much more. All events are free and open to the public, with the exception of the pancake breakfast, which charges a modest fee. All participants in contests receive ribbons; winners receive trophies.
Evening events commence at 6 p.m. with the Bel Air Parade, beginning at the intersection of Gordon Street and North Main Street, in front of the Harford County Historical Society, and proceeding through the newly-decorated and reconstructed town center straight down Main Street to the intersection of South Main Street and Idlewild Street.
The Bel Air parade is the largest in the region in terms of number of participants and spectators, and features bands, performance groups, clubs, Scout troops and packs, community groups, church groups, clowns, floats, dancers, horses, dogs, antique cars, beauty queens, fire engines, commercial units and more.
Understanding the time commitment that participating in the parade demands, the Independence Day Committee is already hard at work soliciting parade units and getting the word out that parading is fun, patriotic and a great way to introduce a group, organization or business to more than 50,000 Harford County citizens.
The day's events conclude with a grand fireworks display in the air over Rockfield Park.