Soccer leagues, Scout troops, teenage pageant winners, and poms squads from as near as West Laurel and as far away as Arbutus joined fire trucks and military groups as Laurel's annual Independence Day Parade brought stars and stripes to the streets of Old Town Saturday.
With gazes and bayonets both fixed, the Navy Ceremonial Guard Drill Team marched in unison and wowed the parade-watchers with their performance of close-order drills.
One of the many parade grand marshals was Savage resident Herculano Dias, who was a member of an all-black Ranger unit in the Korean War that parachuted behind enemy lines.
There was only a scattering of politicians compared with last year's near-overload of hopeful candidates who used the parade to meet constituents as they battled for votes in the primary. Among the sitting elected officials who marched was Laurel Mayor Craig Moe, who brought along a guest, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.
Ward 1 resident Ed Ricks made it clear he's running for a City Council seat this year by marching with campaign signs.
The West Laurel Rag Tag Band once again brought their whimsical hats and Sousa band talent to the parade, bringing up the rear and making way for the Department of Public Works trucks who take over the streets before they are reopened for traffic.
The all-volunteer Laurel 4th of July Committee organizes the city's annual celebration, and raising money to pay for the fireworks and other fun enjoyed by thousands each year. Donations can be mailed to Laurel 4th of July Committee, P.O. Box 416, Laurel, MD 20725.
Most outstanding overall: American Legion Post 60
Ted Metzger Memorial Award for best Scout troop: American Heritage Girls Troop 1208
Dick Bromley Most Innovative Award: West Laurel Rag Tag Band
Jim Blumenshine Award for most outstanding civic/community group or organization: Laurel Volunteer Fire Department
Walter H. Allen Memorial Award for best youth group: Arbutus Sailorettes
Carol Bound Memorial Award for best musical group: Fire Brigade Pipe and Drum of Greater Baltimore
Best fire department: Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department
Best rescue squad/ambulance: Laurel Volunteer Rescue Squad
Best retired/antique fire apparatus: Burtonsville Volunteer Fire Department
Best commercial/business vehicle: The Bams King Fu Family Center
Best float: U-Store Self Storage