Darlington played host Saturday to the first of many Independence Day celebrations taking place in and around Harford County over the next week, with a parade, Darlington Idol contest and fireworks.
"This is one of the better, what I would call, 'Hometown parades,' " Stephanie Gill of Norrisville said as she watched her 4-year-old daughter, MacKenzie, and 8-year-old son, Steven Jr., pick up pieces of candy tossed out by people riding on parade floats.
"It's what a parade should be in a small town," Gill continued.
Saturday's parade was part of the 26th Darlington Independence Day Celebration, and the last for Kira Dare as president of the Darlington Independence Day Celebration Committee.
Dare will step down from the position she has held for more than a decade, and the Darlington Lions' Club will take over putting on the community's Independence Day festivities.
Dare said there were 70 organizations registered to take part in the parade, which lasted for about an hour and 10 minutes. It was the largest and longest the parade since she became president of the committee.
"The word's out that we're a great parade," she said.
Saturday's parade proceeded through the downtown area of the village of Darlington, along Main Street and then Shuresville Road.
It included ambulances and fire trucks representing volunteer fire companies from around Harford and neighboring counties, mail trucks from the Darlington Post Office, vintage military, Maryland State Police and other vehicles, a black and bright purple "Bawlmer Ravens" fan bus blaring music and sirens, the Havre de Grace High School Marching Warriors, horseback riders, tractors and others.
"I like the horses and the fire tricks and the Ravens thing," little MacKenzie said. "I like all kinds of stuff!"
The grand marshal was Joni Nugent, a longtime resident of Darlington and a former member of the Darlington Independence Day Celebration Committee. She rode in a vintage Maryland State Police truck.
Carla Yeago, the parade mistress of ceremonies, noted Nugent "has contributed immensely to the village of Darlington," as she announced the grand marshal from the reviewing stand.
Members of Boy Scout Troop 301 of Dublin made up the parade's color guard to lead the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem to open the parade, and members of local Girl Scout groups could be seen marching in the parade also.
"This event is just such a wonderful event for the community and I love being a part of it," said Yeago, who said she has been emcee for at least eight years. "I just love seeing everyone come out and enjoy the night."
The parade did not just draw spectators from northern Harford County, however.
John Mayni of Bel Air attended with his friend, Candice Doehring, of Abingdon, and her fiance, Richard Fuggi, of Bel Air.
"I'm only 25 minutes down the road," Mayni said. "It's definitely worth the trip."
Mayni and his friends sat along Shuresville Road, watching the parade go by.
"I loved it," Doehring said. "I think everything in the parade was wonderful, fantastic and awesome."
Fuggi grew up in Darlington.