Edgewood has been in the public eye in recent weeks after a string of violent crimes, but the community was all smiles Saturday for the sixth annual Edgewood-Joppatowne Independence Day Parade.
The location of the parade alternates between Edgewood and Joppatowne each year.
Temperatures had been in the low 90s during the day Saturday, and those who attended the Havre de Grace Independence Day parade earlier in the day had to contend with heat and humidity.
The humidity had eased by the time spectators lined Hanson Road in Edgewood for that community's evening parade.
The lineup included local high school band performances, area politicians and political candidates, local fire trucks and ambulances, youth dance teams and floats and banners representing community groups, businesses and youth organizations.
"They did a nice job; the kids are so talented," Paula Mullis, chair of the Joppa-Joppatowne Community Council, said after the parade.
Parade organizer Dianna Guthrie, the development chair for the Edgewood/Joppatowne Independence Day Parade Committee Inc., said the theme of Saturday's parade was "Ageless Excellence Marching Forward."
"We're honoring some of the senior members of the community who have offered so much for so many years," she said before the parade.
Ken Hammer, a local World War II veteran who is in his 90s, was scheduled to be the grand marshal for the parade, but Guthrie said he was not able to attend Saturday because he was not feeling well.
George Edward Ashe, a local veteran who served in the Air Force during the Korean, Vietnam and 1991 Persian Gulf wars, filled in.
He sang "God Bless America" and the national anthem during the parade opening, and rode in the parade in a red Corvette driven by Guthrie's husband, Harford County Councilman Dion Guthrie. Former Baltimore Oriole and Harford County native Cal Ripken Jr. rode in the same car during his final game before retiring more than a decade ago.
A color guard from Aberdeen Proving Ground stood at attention during the opening of Saturday's parade, holding the flags of the United States and the Army.
The top commanders at APG, Maj. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell, senior commander of the installation; Command Sgt. Maj. Kennis J. Dent of the Communications-Electronics Command; and Col. Gregory R. McClinton, the garrison commander, and their wives, were introduced before the parade started as well.
Republican State Sen. Nancy Jacobs, who recently announced she would not run for re-election after nearly 20 years of representing Harford and Cecil counties in the legislature, was also honored during the parade.
The parade route, which was about nine tenths of a mile, according to organizers, stretched from the Boys and Girls Club off Cedar Drive, along Hanson to Hornbeam Road, to Perry Avenue and ended at Deerfield Elementary School.
Robert Altman, news director and traffic anchor for WWIN-FM Magic 95.9 radio, was the parade emcee.
The parade clocked in at less than an hour, much shorter than other Independence Day parades in Bel Air, Darlington and Havre de Grace.
That did not bother spectator Goldburne Mariano of Calvert County.
"Big is not as important," he said. "The quality is more important than the quantity."
His sister, Dionicia Mendez, who hails from the Central American nation of Belize, watched the parade with her daughter, Drianna, 11.
Mendez and her daughter are in Edgewood for the summer, visiting family. Her niece was in the parade with the Edgewood High School marching band.
She said she was glad to see bands from other schools as well, such as Joppatowne and C. Milton Wright High School of Bel Air.
"I'm very appreciative that the bands came from the other towns," she said.
Her daughter, Drianna, also appreciated the parade.
"It's my first time seeing a parade like this," Drianna said. "It was really exciting and fun."
Amy Smith of Joppa came to cheer on her son, Ben, who is a member of the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company's cadet program and marched Saturday.
"The cadet program has been so great," she said. "It has been so wonderful for my son."
Diane Hohman of Fallston, who attended Edgewood High and went on to become one of the first to graduate from Joppatowne when it opened in the 1970s, called the parade "a trip down memory lane."
Hohman became emotional when she saw the Edgewood and Joppatowne bands.
"Seeing Joppatowne and Edgewood, seeing the camaraderie between the two schools, it was really neat to see that, so I felt very proud," she said.
There were parade winners in four categories; the winners' names were provided Sunday by Sue Heselton, contract chair for the Parade Committee, and they will receive their trophies during Wednesday's Edgewood Community Council meeting at the Harford County Sheriff's Office's Southern Precinct at 1305 Pulaski Highway in Edgewood. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.
Joppa-Magnolia was the first-place winner in the Fire Company category, and the Abingdon Volunteer Fire Company won second place.
Marching Band winners were C. Milton Wright in first, Joppatowne in second and Edgewood in third.
The members of the Titan Drum Corps of Whiteford took first place in Performance Groups; the Baltimore Twilighters were second and the Viper All Stars Cheerleading and Dance group of Baltimore County was third.
In the Floats category, the "Wizard of Oz"-themed float made by the Joppatowne Lions Club was first, the Harford County Public Library's "Dig into Reading" float came in second and the Scooby Doo-themed float of Extreme Family Outreach of Harford County took third.
Following the parade, everyone was treated to a free concert Saturday night with the Chesapeake Silver Coronet Brass Band in Flying Point Park.