Bel Air kicks off its Christmas season with 22nd annual parade

For the 22nd year, Main Street's sidewalks were filled Sunday with revelers eager to take in the annual Bel Air Christmas Parade.

The celebration of all things Christmas got under way with plenty of marching bands, animals, baton twirlers and local community leaders strolling through the heart of Bel Air, which was lined with people.

Flaming batons seemed to be a mini-trend this year. Twirlers from both Bel Air Applause and TwirlTasTix sported sticks on fire, with the Applause performers also wearing elf costumes and Santa dresses.

Young musicians from the Edgewood High School marching band donned Santa hats while they played "Cupid Shuffle."

The C. Milton Wright High band members had wreaths in their tubas, while other C. Milton performers twirled striped swords.

Creative floats and animals also paraded down the street.

Bel Air police officers, including chief Leo Matrangola, were sitting pretty atop dark horses.

Representatives from the Humane Society of Harford County walked about a dozen dogs dressed up with colorful holiday collars. Toys For Tots had a long, red wooden train featuring its logo.

Miniature horses were also dressed in their holiday best, with one horse sporting a saddle that said, "Please bring lots of presents."

A number of those attending the parade said it was their first time.

Joyce and Ed Kelly, of Fallston, had never been to the parade, despite being in the area for decades. Joyce noted Ed has lived here for 86 years and her granddaughter was in the John Carroll School band for three years before moving on to Towson University.

Ed said the parade was an old-fashioned reminder.

"It reminded me of the old days," he said. "We had a drum corps in town."

He and Joyce both enjoyed the bands, though Ed preferred the C. Milton Wright High band.

"The C. Milton Wright band did a really good job," he said. "The others were all trying."

Joyce said she liked the whole parade.

"I think it was very interesting," she said. "I was going to go play bingo, but then I said, 'We've lived in Harford County for so many years and never came.' It was good. I enjoyed it."

Katie Eubank, also of Fallston, was another first-timer. She said she usually goes to the White Marsh parade, having lived in Parkville until five years ago, but one of her daughters had a scheduling conflict this year.

Eubank came with her four children: 8-year-old Michael, 6-year-old Abbie, 4-year-old Grace and 2-year-old Lily.

"It's not too long. It's perfect," she said of the parade, adding she may have to start coming to Bel Air's parade instead.

"I love all the marching bands," Eubank said, while Abbie noted she enjoyed Santa Claus and the horses.

Not everyone at the parade was there for the first time.

Rob Hruz, of Bel Air, said he comes every year. This time, he was with his young son, Ryan.

"It's wonderful," Hruz said. "It gives the same small-town presence that we really enjoy. Our daughter has been in the dance portion."

After the parade was over, signs of it lingered. The police horses left their own "present" of sorts, in a large pile right in the intersection of Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Parade participants had dispersed throughout downtown; one woman walked down Maitland Street with a boy dressed in full Santa regalia.

Meanwhile, the celebration continued at Shamrock Park, where attendees danced around a large bonfire while Christmas music played from the bandstand and the town's Christmas Tree was eventually lit.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad