"I think the parade was good, fun and exciting, to see all the cool stuff, all the cool cars," he said. "It's always worth the drive."

Organizer Dare said she hoped to have greater participation from local marching bands, but noted the challenge of bringing students together after school lets out for the summer.

She thanked Richard Hauf, director of the Havre de Grace Warrior Pride Marching Band, for bringing his students.

"He pulls these kids together and has them marching in all the parades locally, and he is an awesome band director and so respected by his students," she said.


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Darlington Idol

The annual Darlington Idol contest drew a number of people, adults and children, to show their singing talents on stage at Francis Silver Park after the parade.

The setup was similar to Fox's hit "American Idol" show, with contestants singing segments of hit songs and receiving feedback from judges.

The local three-judge panel included John Ryan of Captain John's Seafood of Street, Ginelle Johnson of Hall's Septic Service of Street and Abby Derosset of Hair Design by Abby Inc. of Riverside.

The contestants were whittled down to three finalists: Savannah Cash, 12, of Aberdeen; Rachel Bauer, 17, of Edgewood, and Andrea Wolfe, 22, of Darlington.

Wolfe impressed the judges in the early round with her rendition of Carrie Underwood's "Last Name," and went on to win the $100 cash first prize with her rendition of Miranda Lambert's "Gunpowder and Lead."

Wolfe, who sells cars at Bob Bell Chevrolet in Bel Air, came to the park from work, and entered the Darlington Idol contest on the "spur of the moment."

"It was kind of spur of the moment, but I had fun," she said, "I love signing; I was in my element; it's definitely a passion of mine."

Savannah took third place, a $25 cash prize, with her rendition of Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful," and Rachel won second place, $50 cash, by performing Sugarland's "Stay."

Master of ceremonies Jerry Scarborough, who was also in charge of the parade, gave a special $5 prize to 7-year-old Reagan Ferretti, of Bel Air, who showed a strong stage presence while singing Taylor Swift's "Last Christmas."

"She was so cute, I couldn't stand it," Scarborough, a member of the Darlington Volunteer Fire Company and owner of Hall's Septic, said later.

Fireworks

Children danced on the park's stage as the sun set, and then the fireworks went off after 9 p.m., when the dark settled.

People were treated to colorful airbursts and the loud booms of the shells and rockets.

Greg Molnar, of Bel Air, and his girlfriend, Nicole Herbert, of Street, were lit up as they sat under the park's picnic pavilion, watching the fireworks.

"They're always good here," Molnar said after the show.

Herbert added: "We come back every year."

Dare said organizers did not take a head count of those who came to Silver Park, but said "it was truly the biggest crowd I've ever seen down at the park."

"I thought that it was the best Independence Day celebration that we've had to date," Dare continued. "I am grateful to Jerry Scarborough for organizing our biggest parade yet, and we were all grateful that the weather could not have been better, that our attendance could not have been greater and that it was evident that the day's events were enjoyed by all."