Bel Air Independence Day Committee presents parade awards

In a recent brief ceremony on the steps of Bel Air Town Hall, the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, the all-volunteer non-profit organization that produces and runs all the Fourth of July festivities in the Town of Bel Air each year, distributed its major awards from the recent July 4th parade.

Receiving a cash award of $400 for having the best float was the Susquehanna Beekeepers Association. The Susquehanna Beekeepers Association is a Harford County non-profit volunteer organization that educates the public about the importance of the honey bee to agriculture and to life in general, promotes the benefits of eating locally-produced honey and provides up-to-date information necessary to the management of honey bees. The association champions the values and pleasures of bee-keeping to the public and supports the local environment. The association's float urged citizens to "bee" volunteers.

Receiving a cash award of $500 and retaining the trophy as the best Harford County High School Band in the Bel Air July 4th parade were members of the C. Milton Wright High School Marching Mustang Band. Under the direction of Mary Lynn Twentey, the Marching Mustangs won the prestigious 2013 Trophy for the fourth consecutive year. The only other band to have won it is the Havre de Grace marching band, which won the award in 2009, the first year it was offered. The trophy, like the Stanley Cup, travels each year to the winning school, as a new engraving is done noting that year's winning band. For 2013, the bands competing were Bel Air High School, John Carroll School, C. Milton Wright High School, Patterson Mill High School, Havre de Grace High School, Edgewood High School and Joppatowne High School.

The awards were made by a panel of independent judges, who graded the parade entrants on their consistency with the theme of the parade, which for 2013 was "Celebrating America's Volunteers," as well as their enthusiasm, creativity and style. The full list of parade winners is published on the Independence Day Committee's web site at The committee will be contacting all other winners about ordering and receiving their prizes.

The 2013 parade, which lasted from 6 to 8 p.m. July 4 and was viewed by approximately 40,000 people, was, in the eyes of the committee, "one of the best ever. We tried to streamline the parade and keep it a little shorter this year," Parade Chairman Michael Blum said. "We wanted to give people plenty of time to get to the fireworks afterwards. We also reverted to our earlier staging method of assigned division positions rather than random insertions, which we hope greatly reduced the wait for each parade unit. Of course, the glorious weather helped."

The 2013 parade was the 21st consecutive managed by Blum, who also manages the annual Bel Air Christmas parade.

"The parade and fireworks are the culmination of a long day of patriotic celebrations in Bel Air," Independence Day Committee President Don Stewart said. "It's significant that every one of the over 100 persons involved in running the events, from the flag-raising, pancake breakfast and horseshoe pitching through the day events to the parade and conclusion, are volunteers," Stewart adds. "That's why our 2013 theme was so appropriate."

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