Apple pie and the Fourth of July just seem to go together. So when Double Dipper owners Angie and Robert Crowell wanted to create a fundraiser for the Laurel Fourth of July Committee, their All American Sundae was the perfect choice.
From the bottom up, the sundae is a gooey stack of apple pie, two scoops of vanilla ice cream, a topping such as caramel or hot fudge, whipped cream and, naturally, a cherry on top.
"You can choose any topping, but I recommend caramel," Angie Crowell said.
The Crowells opened their shop at Montgomery and Ninth streets in 2011. With its distinctive Pepto-Bismol-pink walls, the cafe is working to become part of the fabric of Laurel, and Angie Crowell says supporting groups such as the Laurel Fourth of July Committee is a two-way effort.
"The community is what keeps us going," Crowell said. "The fundraiser is a part of helping Laurel."
Carreen Koubek, who works in the city's Department of Communications, is chairwoman of the all-volunteer committee this year and said fundraisers such as the Double Dipper's limited-offer sundae, available Thursday, June 27, to July 7, help pay for the daylong event, which will be held on July 6 this year. Ten percent of the price of the sundae will be donated to the committee.
"We fundraise all year," Koubek said, and the Double Dipper's efforts are just the latest in a string of supportive events that includes a yard sale, a golf tournament and a bull roast. The committee is also selling chances on a 50-inch TV to help fill their coffers to pay for the day, and will hold a country breakfast fundraiser on Sunday, June 30, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Laurel Police Department's Partnership Activity Center, 811 Fifth St. Then later that day, the committee members will hold a meet and greet at the Double Dipper from 1 to 3 p.m.
"We are thankful for the local business support and the city of Laurel's support," Koubek said.
Laurel's Independence Day celebration, held traditionally on the Saturday closest to July 4, has a few changes this year, but none will have as big an impact as losing the parking area at the former Laurel Mall.
Because of construction of Towne Centre Laurel, the spacious parking lot that surrounded the mall at Fourth Street and Cherry Lane will not be available for parade participants or those who like to park there for the evening's fireworks display across the street at Laurel Lakes.
Koubek has two words of advice: patience and carpool.
"Parking is at a premium, that whole area at the mall is fenced off," she said. "Drivers should come out a week in advance and scout out where the best places to park are."
While there is parking available at schools, office buildings or along the streets, city officials would not specify where drivers could park and would not endorse any parking locations. However, the city and the Laurel Police Department plan to allow parking in the right turn lane on westbound Cherry Lane, from Route 1 to Fourth Street, to allow parade participants to access their vehicles and leave the area where the parade route ends at Fourth Street and Cherry Lane.
With many drivers parking blocks from Granville Gude Park, where events are scheduled during the day and the fireworks are shot over the lake at night, there's likely to be an increase in pedestrian traffic. To help with traffic safety, Koubek said, Laurel Police will be on extra patrols July 6.
"It's going to be challenging for everyone," she said. "Bring your patience and have fun."
Mark Hemler isn't new to coordinating parades; he took the reins of the Reisterstown Festival parade for several years when the Baltimore County town was his home.
But he is new to Laurel and Laurel's Independence Day celebration and, as this year's parade coordinator, hasn't even watched Laurel's annual parade for himself.
"I came in late in the game," Hemler said, joining after the Laurel Fourth of July Committee was well underway in planning this year's July 6 event.