The organizers of Friday's Independence Day parade in Kingsville were watching the weather closely during the hours leading up to the parade start time, hoping storms driven by Hurricane Arthur would not force them to cancel.
The skies began clearing by the time the Baltimore County community's 34th annual Independence Day parade kicked off at 11 a.m., and families were gathered along Jerusalem Road in anticipation of the nearly 75 fire trucks, ambulances, marching bands, vintage cars, tractors, horseback riders and community floats that would make their way from the Kingsville Volunteer Fire Company along Bradshaw Road, through the community's main commercial intersection at Bradshaw and Jerusalem Road and then down Jerusalem Road.
Bruce McCubbin, who was serving as the parade's emcee for the 32nd year, described one car as "flawless, just like this day has turned out to be."
While the morning was warm and humid, the skies eventually cleared, and parade-goers were able to watch the festivities and enjoy snowballs being sold at Bradshaw and Jerusalem.
Kingsville sits about two miles west of the Little Gunpowder Falls, which separates Baltimore County from Harford County, and many of the parade entrants hail from Harford County.
The parade was led by a color guard from Aberdeen Proving Ground and the John Carroll School marching band.
An Abingdon Cub Scout pack also marched.
Other Harford marching bands included those from Havre de Grace High School, Joppatowne High School, C. Milton Wright High School in Bel Air and Edgewood High School, plus the Titans Drum Corps of Bel Air.
Fire companies from Bel Air, Joppa-Magnolia, Whiteford also took part, their fire trucks and ambulances shining.
At one point, the crowds along the intersection of Jerusalem and Bradshaw, which had been roped off, had to quickly make way for a Baltimore County EMS vehicle that had to leave the parade and speed off to an emergency call.
The driver headed down Route 1 (Belair Road), and the parade resumed.
The theme of this year's parade was "A Salute To The Star Spangled Banner," and many floats made by local schools and community groups were decked out in red, white and blue.
The theme had been submitted by Meredith Hecht, a third-grader at Kingsville Elementary School, and as the "theme winner," she rode in a convertible covered with American flags.
Her vehicle came on the heels of the car the parade's grand marshal, Dennis Eyre of Kingsville, was riding in.
Eyre is a graduate of Bel Air High School, according to the parade program, and he and his family have lived in Kingsville since 1980.
He is a veteran of the Vietnam War and a 10-time president of the Kingsville Volunteer Fire Company, according to the program.
Parade-goers were also treated to the sight of Civil War re-enactors portraying soldiers and civilians.
A group of soldiers stopped near the reviewing stand and fired their weapons into the air.
McCubbin noted they had "authentic" weapons and uniforms.
"The next time you think about the Battle of Gettysburg, which was occurring about this date, what it must have sounded like," McCubbin told the crowd as it reacted to the noise of the gunshots.
The Battle of Gettysburg took place from July 1-3, 1863, in Gettysburg, Pa., and it was among the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, with more than 30,000 dead and wounded, according to the Civil War Trust's website.
McCubbin also asked parade participants not to throw candy into the crowd – a common tradition of parades much loved by children in attendance –to prevent injuries. The majority of those walking in the parade with candy walked up to the crowd and handed candy to spectators.
Another highlight of the parade was the welcoming of Army Capt. Matthew Brooks, a Kingsville native who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He rode in a Polaris ATV driven by his brother, John, and his father, John, a parade official, stepped out and hugged him as he passed the reviewing stand.
After the parade, Brooks, 28, called it a "pretty special moment." He said he had served in Afghanistan for 10 months, overseeing Army intelligence for special operations forces in northern Afghanistan.
He returned to the U.S. in the summer of 2013; he is stationed in Ft. Stewart, Ga., with the 3rd Infantry Division, and he will head to Florida International University in Miami in December to serve as an ROTC instructor.
"It was great," he said of the parade.
Shane and Sarah Layng of Parkville usually travel to a Maine island for Independence Day, but they decided to stay home this year, and they brought their 15-month-old son, Wyatt, to the Kingsville parade.
Shane called the parade "fantastic."
Sarah said the Kingsville parade was "much bigger than what we're used to.".
"But it still has the small-town feel, which is fantastic," Shane added.
LeeAnn Bailey, 8, of Fork, came with her parents and her best friend, Jade Peckinpaugh, 9, of Fallston, and her parents.
Both girls said their favorite part of the parade was the horses.
"They were pretty, and I like how they were decorated," LeeAnn said.
Jade's father, Dale, said they had been invited by the Bailey family.
"[I'm] glad we came, glad the weather cooperated," he said.
The parade is put on by the Greater Kingsville Civic Association and the Kingsville fire company.
Parade Chair Linda Alexander said organizers made the "right call" by going ahead with the parade.
"I think a lot of people would have been disappointed if we didn't have the parade, because they put a lot of effort into their entries," she said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun