Chair contest sets stage for Catonsville's annual Fourth of July celebration

Keith Lippert sat in a recliner spray-painted red, white and blue and greeted curious onlookers with a smile and a raised mug during the June 24 Frederick Road Fridays free concert in Catonsville.

Lippert was all smiles until asked about his chances of winning the inaugural Show Us Your Chair Contest, sponsored by the Catonsville Fourth of July Committee.

The contest to raise funds and awareness for the annual Fourth of July parade attracted 11 entries that paid a $25 fee, said Maureen Sweeney Smith, a member of the committee.

Votes were $1 each.

The parade down Frederick Road Monday afternoon and the fireworks that evening cost $100,000.

The events expected to draw tens of thousands of people to the area as the festivities kick off at 2 p.m. Monday.

As of June 27, the group was about $25,000 short in its fundraising, according to Sweeney Smith.

The Show Us Your Chair Contest started accepting submissions in March and voting started the second week of June.

The contest is based on the growing Catonsville tradition of leaving chairs along the Frederick Road parade route to stake out spots to view the event. Chairs were spotted along the route last weekend.

"I'm about fourth place right now," Lippert said with a tinge of disappointment in his voice.

"I think I can make a comeback," the Catonsville resident quickly added, his enthusiasm restored.

His confidence that he would receive more votes in the final week of voting could be traced to recent modifications made to his "All American Lazy Boy," which included a beer-dispensing tap.

The contest has a lot on the line, as the chair with the most votes gets VIP treatment at the parade and during the fireworks.

Current leader Valerie Androutsopoulos said she has heard a buzz about her Vangel Paper company's chair, made of cardboard and paper products.

But the Catonsville resident remained cautiously optimistic about winning.

"People can't believe it's made out of cardboard. It looks like it's carved out of wood," Androutsopoulos said of the chair, made by 19-year-old Catonsville resident Adam LaFon.

"I hear that there are people who are holding back and are going to, I think the term is, sandbag," added Androutsopoulos, who noted she sent out an email to friends and clients to increase her tally. "They're going to pile on all the money (at the end)."

The contest is any chair's game, as dozens of people admired the entrants June 24 during the evening concert by Stone Mason on Egges Lane.

Two of the younger observers favored the chair made by Leikin and Baylin Dental Care, which featured lips, teeth and a toothbrush.

"It looks like a mouth and when you sit in it, because of the toothbrush it makes it look like you're brushing your teeth," said Cody Warren, a 9-year-old Ohio resident who plans to stay for the July 4 celebration.

"If you sit in it, it looks like a monster eating you," said Mailin Eagle, an 8-year-old Arbutus resident.

While the chair-gazers seemed content with the variety of selections on display, Hillary Pennington, a Catonsville resident helping to market the Fourth of July celebration, expected to have more.

"We did have less (entries) than we thought, but after the contest went live online was when we started getting people who were like, 'Hey, can we still enter?'" Pennington said. "We did have three entries that came in after the deadline."

Even though Catonsville's newest Fourth of July tradition got off to a slow start, it may have picked up momentum June 24.

"I guess seeing gets people excited," Pennington said. "We have already had a ton of people say, 'We can't wait till next year.'"

Pennington said she expects voting to pick up before the deadline at 5 p.m. on July 1.

"I do expect that further exposure will create a surge of voting," Pennington said in an email June 24. "Up until this point, most votes have come from the contacts of the entrants."

As of 10 a.m. June 27, the excitement had translated into more than 1,400 votes.

Meanwhile, Maureen Sweeney Smith of the Catonsville Fourth of July Committee has requested that parade-goers stay off Montrose Avenue, where the parade floats line up, from 2 to 5 p.m. July 4.

"We know it's fun to watch the line up, but we need spectators to wait until the parade comes down Frederick Road," Sweeney Smith wrote in an email sent June 25. "Everyone's safety is at stake with buses, small children and vehicles trying to get their spot."

Recycled and Shredded Paper Box Seat by Vangel Paper — 462 votes

Where'd You Get Your Hair Done, Hon? by Catonsville Hair Co. — 401 votes

Rocking House Chair by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage — 150 votes

The All American Lazy Boy by Keith Lippert — 87 votes

Sparking a Lifelong Love of Learning by Christ Lutheran Nursery School — 81 votes

Go Go Gadget Mom Chair by More than Moms — 70 votes

Peace, Love, and Independence by Peace a Pizza — 70 votes

Lady Liberty by Narcissus Salon — 40 votes

Creating Healthy and Beautiful Smiles since 1985 by Leikin and Baylin Dental Care — 33 votes

July 4th Chair by EmbroidMe of Catonsville — 25 votes

Lipstick Chair by Just In 4 U — 2 votes

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