Celebrate Fourth with parade, fireworks in Towson

Towson will celebrate the red, white and blue from morning till night on Monday, July 4.

The Towson Area Fourth of July Parade kicks off on Bosley Avenue at Towsontown Boulevard at 10:30 a.m. with 16 marching bands and 100 units.

"You don't want to miss this truly American event," said parade program coordinator Jackie Sims.

"The parade honors our military, celebrates our diversity and makes us a better community. Everybody is happy. They can cheer and clap their hands and just be joyful."

Fun aside, "the parade is our chance to say 'thank you' to the men and women who have served our country so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today," said parade committee chairwoman Maryann Albaugh. "Many could not be with us today because they have made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives."

The parade features military units, including mounted U.S. Cavalry personnel, and this year, the families of deployed soldiers will be marching as well.

The procession also includes traditional favorites such as the Ravens Marching Band, the Reading (Pa.) Buccaneers and the Kiltie Bank of York, with a St. Andrew's Society color guard.

In addition, spectators will see up-close a race car that will be participating in the Inaugural 2011 Baltimore Grand Prix during Labor Day Weekend.

The race car, which comes with girls dressed as a pit crew, will be on a flat bed truck because the high-powered fuel it takes to start its engine would be a safety hazard, according to Judy Gregory, who is in charge of the line-up.

The all-volunteer committee that puts on the event each year strongly suggests that spectators arrive early for the parade. They'll be able to enjoy live music and ceremonies at the parade reviewing stands on Bosley and on Washington Avenue beginning at 9:45 a.m.

The National Anthem and other patriotic songs will be sung, and local Holocaust survivor Deli Strummer will lead the Pledge of Allegiance to celebrate her 66th year of liberation.

The Maryland National Guard A-10 flyover, which roars overhead precisely at 15 seconds past 10:24 a.m., is the tip off that the parade is about to begin.

At 10:30 a.m. the bike rush of youngsters and their decorated bikes tricks and strollers clears the way, and the nearly two-hour procession marches forth, north on Bosley, east on Allegheny Avenue and south on Washington Avenue to Chesapeake Avenue.

The fun continues that night with fireworks launched from the grounds of Loch Raven Technical Academy after dusk.

The day-long celebration is free. The $9,500 fireworks display is a gift from the Loch Raven Village community association, and the parade is funded by donations from businesses, organizations and residents.

"It's always a struggle very year to raise the $30,000 it take to put the parade on," said parade committee chairman Maryann Albaugh."We're grateful to the generous sponsors and donators who have made the event possible this year."

Major donors are Towson American Legion Post 22, Towson Chamber of Commerce, Bank of America, Jerry's Chevrolet, M&T Bank and CFG Bank.

But "the bucket brigade" on the day of the parade is just as important when it comes to the money needed to fund the annual parade.

That's when members of the committee or their representatives go though the crowds asking for donations.

"We're trying something different this year," said Sims. "Instead of passing the bucket during the parade, we're going to do it before the parade begins when we have a captive audience.

"We'll start at the beginning and end of the parade route and meet in the middle."

The bucket brigade is important because it raises money for next year's parade, Sims said. "We welcome any contribution, but we prefer large bills."

Folks willing to chip in to keep the parade marching every July 4 may make checks out to Towson Area Fourth of July Parade and send them to TAFJP, P.O. Box 5418, Towson, MD 21285.

Call 410-832-2190 to volunteer or for further information.

Parade to feature huge cow, big dog

It's the little things that have nothing to do with the holiday that make the Towson Area Fourth of July Parade a great crowd-pleaser.

It's the ramshackle, always-loved stuffed animals on the Dixie Cats float that gyrate to the music as the band plays "Ragtime."

It's the 8-foot-long, 5-foot-tall replica of Hampton Mansion, with a cupola that may be shakier than Hampton resident Doug Ober would like. He took charge of building it in his garage.

It's the T-shirts emblazoned with "It's Hampton, Hon," instead of Hampden, because the owner of Cafe Hon, in Hampden — who also owns the copyright for "hon" — gave the Hampton Improvement Association special permission to use it.

But for this year's parade, it'll be the big things, too, that make it special.

Last year, parade program coordinator Jackie Sims was out of state driving on an expressway and couldn't imagine what the huge object was on the truck in front of her.

It turned out to be a cow's butt. And not just any cow's butt, but one that's attached to a 13-foot-tall, 2-ton cow statue that Turkey Hill Ice Cream sends to events and festivals.

She had to have it for the parade, she said.

Turkey Hill was glad to oblige. Their cows — they have four of them — are transported all over the country.

A 13-foot-tall cow draws attention, some of it unintended, according to the Turkey Hill website. In New Hyde Park, N.Y., a Turkey Hill cow was shot — she recovered nicely, after fiberglass and paint was applied to the 4-inch hole in her belly.

In Brooklyn, a cow encountered an underpass that was too low for her to fit beneath. Traffic jammed in both directions, and seven police cars showed up.

During Towson's parade, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile will give the Turkey Hill Holstein a run for her money. It resembles a hot dog on a bun and is 27 feet long and 11 feet high.

The Wienermobile also has suffered its share of mishaps, according to Wikipedia. One was attempting to turn around in a driveway in Wisconsin when the driver hit the gas pedal instead of the brake — and lodged the Wienermobile under the house.

If you're going …

The July 4 parade in Towson starts at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of Bosley Avenue and Towsontown Boulevard, marches north on Bosley, east on Allegheny Avenue, south on Washington Avenue and disbands after Chesapeake Avenue.

Parade-route streets will be closed to traffic by 8:30 a.m.

Free parking will be available in the Baltimore County Revenue Authority high-rise parking garages behind the Towson Library, on Susquehanna avenue and on the corner of Ware and Washington avenues. Street meters also will be free.

Prep for the youngsters' bike rush that leads off the parade at 10:30 begins at 9 a.m. in the Towson University parking lot directly across from the Burkshire Marriott Conference Hotel.

Pre-parade entertainment at reviewing stands on Bosley and on Washington begin at 9:45 a.m.

The new streetscaping on Washington Avenue has narrowed the space for the parade to pass by. No blankets or chair will be permitted on Washington Avenue.

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