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.
The two parades have one large difference, Hemler said: dealing with the heat. The Resiterstown Festival parade enjoys the coolness of a September morning. Laurel's Independence Day parade braces against the brunt of midday July heat.
"We have an issue with how hot it is," Hemler said.
This year's parade theme is "Honoring our First Responders," and grand marshals will represent the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department, Laurel Volunteer Rescue Squad and Laurel Police.
"With everything we have heard in the news this past year, we wanted to honor those who put their lives on the lines to protect us: fire, EMS and the Police Department," Koubek said. "We wanted to thank them publicly."
To help parade participants sign up, the Laurel Fourth of July Committee created online registration this year and designed a new website, laurel4th.org, with help from city Webmaster James Cornwell-Shiel.
The deadline for parade registration was June 21, and Hemler said many of the usual marching groups have signed up, everything from fire departments that neighbor Laurel to the West Laurel Rag Tag Band, with a sprinkling of local politicians.
Koubek said the committee decided not to hold the antique and vintage car show this year, but instead is beefing up the family-friendly field games, which will be held at Granville Gude Park where the car show was traditionally set up. She didn't rule out the car show returning in the future.
The hot dog eating contest will be back after its initial launch at last year's celebration, and new entertainment includes a music showcase of young performers, sponsored by Breasia Studios, and 15-minute dance demonstrations by Enckore Dance performers.
"We hope to draw more people to the field throughout the day," Koubek said, and there will be more vendors, selling everything from crafts to festival food.
Laurel's Independence Day celebration is Saturday, July 6. The parade begins at 11 a.m. and follows a route from Sixth and Montgomery streets to southbound on Fourth Street, ending at Cherry Lane. Horseshoe contests, field games, music and entertainment, and a hot dog eating contest begin at 11 a.m. at Granville Gude Park and continue until fireworks are shot over Laurel Lakes, around 9:15 p.m. A full schedule, with street closings, will appear in the July 4 issue of the Laurel Leader.