Laurel celebrates Independence Day with parade and fireworks

Laurel's annual Fourth of July Celebration, organized each year by the Laurel Fourth of July Committee, will be held Saturday, July 7, beginning with a morning parade and ending with fireworks at dusk at Granville Gude Park at Laurel Lakes.

The day's events will be dedicated to Marine Lance Cpl. Eugene Mills III, a Laurel native who died June 22 in Afghanistan. A Marine Corps Honor Guard unit will march in the parade, and during the flag-raising ceremony at Gude Lakehouse at 3:15 p.m., the flag will be lowered to half-staff. The evening fireworks will be dedicated to Mills during a ceremony at 9 p.m.

Committee chair Kay Harrison said parade watchers are asked to wear yellow ribbons in memory of Mills, and that committee members will distribute ribbons along the parade route.

As part of the celebration, the city has decorated light poles along Cherry Lane with American flags and the Marine Corps flag, and bright, yellow ribbons.

This year's parade grand marshals will be three members of the Laurel chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association. Rosie the Riveters were women who joined the workforce during World War II when many men were serving in the armed forces.

Prior to the parade, Sixth Street will close at 9 a.m. when parade contestants begin lining up. The parade begins at 11 a.m. and follows a route from Sixth and Montgomery streets, to south on Fourth Street to Cherry Lane. Montgomery and Fourth Street will be closed to traffic along the parade route.

A horseshoe contest begins at 11 a.m. at Granville Gude Park at Laurel Lakes, and antique and classic cars will be on display at Gude Park from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There will be no field games this year, but the Laurel Fourth of July Committee will inaugurate its first annual hot dog eating contest at Gude Park at 2 p.m. Contestants pay a $10 entry fee and will be limited to 12 hot dogs. Mayor Craig Moe and members of the Laurel City Council will judge the contest based on how fast the hot dogs are consumed.

Schedule of events (all times are approximate)

9:30 a.m. Parade line up at Sixth and Montgomery streets. Antique and classic cars line up on Montgomery Street starting at Stanley Place.

11 a.m. Parade begins. Judging stand on Fourth Street. Classic car show begins at Gude Park following parade, continues to 4 p.m.

11 a.m. Horseshoe contest at Gude Park, Laurel Lakes

2 p.m. First annual hot dog eating contest. Contestants register and check in at Laurel Lakes Pavilion by 1:30 p.m.

3:15 p.m. Grand opening, national anthem sung by Christina Landis and invocation by the Rev. Warren Litchfield. Flag raising ceremony placing the flag at half-staff in honor of Laurel Marine Lance Cpl. Eugene Mills III

4 p.m. Parade awards and acknowledgments

4:30 p.m. Classic car show awards

5:15 p.m. Live music by Oracle

7 p.m. Opening remarks

7:30 p.m. Live music by Oracle

9 p.m. Fireworks dedication to Marine Lance Cpl. Eugene Mills III

9:15 p.m. Fireworks from the lake

Cherry Lane will be closed at 6 p.m. and reopened after the fireworks. Alcohol, sparklers, fireworks and pets are not permitted. Working dogs are allowed.

Rain date, for fireworks only, is Sunday, July 8, at 9:15 p.m.

The Laurel Fourth of July Committee organizes the city's annual celebration. Donations can be mailed to Laurel Fourth of July Committee, P.O. Box 416, Laurel, MD 20725.

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