The Havre de Grace Independence Day parade went off without a hitch Sunday. The same could not be said for the fireworks later that night.
Despite "overzealous" people claiming the fireworks were canceled because a severe storm was supposed to move through the area, that was not the case, Havre de Grace Mayor Wayne Dougherty said Tuesday.
Strong storms with extremely high winds and a lot of lightning were in the Churchville area, Dougherty said, and public safety was becoming an issue.
Teresa Walter, the Havre de Grace police chief, according to the mayor, had been talking with officials at the 911 Center and, out of concern for public safety, wanted to clear Tydings Park and tell people to seek shelter, which was not under the large trees that are the park's only semblance of shelter.
Five to 10 minutes after 9 p.m., Dougherty said, Walter was back in touch with EOC, which said the storm threat had passed. The fireworks were set off shortly thereafter.
The fireworks were never canceled, Dougherty said; they were merely delayed.
"There were overzealous folks running around saying they were canceled, canceled. They weren't," the mayor said. "From what I understand, the word was delayed, and for your safety, seek shelter. The word canceled was never used."
Before the fireworks debacle Sunday evening, the parade entertained the crowd lining Union Avenue that afternoon.
Some people were attending as part of an ongoing tradition and others were joining the crowd for the first time.
"This is what it's all about," Nadine Burns said as she sat at the start of the parade route Sunday.
Burns, of Poolesville, grew up in Havre de Grace and along with her family, returns home every year for July 4th.
"We fill up the whole block," Burns said, gesturing to family and friends seated nearby.
Burns said she used to high step for the American Legion Post 47 in the 1970s. The experience of the parade is something she has worked to pass along to her son and family.
Her 9-year-old son, Kyle Burns, came prepared with a water gun this year. Burns said Kyle remembered getting sprayed with water at the parade in years past.
This year Kyle told his mom, "I'm going to be ready this year."
Burns was not the only one passing on a tradition at the Havre de Grace parade Sunday.
For Renee Lust of Havre de Grace and her family, the parade is a major event.
"This is one of our biggest holidays," Lust said.
She explained some family members come into town specifically for the Independence Day celebration.
"It's all about the family, it's about seeing people you haven't seen in a long time," Lust said.
While Lust said she thought the turnout might have been lighter this year than in years past, she said the temperature was just right and everyone seemed to be in good moods.
People of all ages lined the parade route, waving flags, donning themed hats, and most sharing a wave or a smile to those nearby.
Arianna Campbell, 6, of Havre de Grace, said her favorite part of the parade was people throwing candy. Her friend Elena Downs, 7, agreed and added, "I like the music second best."
For 12-year-old Aliyah Bigio, the parade meant something different. Bigio's mother is in the Air Force and could not attend the parade because of her military obligations.
Aliyah said her favorite part of the parade was "to see people just like my mom."
Aliyah's three siblings, their grandmother and aunt all joined her at the parade.
"For me, it's just about freedom and how blessed we are to live here in the great old United States of America," Andrea Givens, Aliyah's aunt, said.
For some, Havre de Grace was not the only Independence Day celebration on the agenda.
Melissa Thompson of Havre de Grace said she and her family attended the Darlington parade last week.
Thompson was enjoying the parade curbside while her 2-year-old son, Aedin, danced to the beat of the marching band drums.
"This is a day that we can celebrate the freedoms we have," Thompson said.
Thompson said the weather was better than she could ask for.
"It's usually too hot and we don't stay the whole time, but this is perfect," Thompson said.
Tela Hurte of Forest Hill said she and her family also planned to attend Bel Air's parade and fireworks on Monday.
"We always come up every year," Hurte said of attending festivities in Havre de Grace.
For her, July 4th means celebrating the country and family.
Aegis editor Erika Butler contributed to this report.