Severna Park Independence Day parade rolls along under new leadership

One of two flower-covered floats created by Homestead Gardens turns the corner from Riggs Avenue onto Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard during the July 4 Severna Park Parade.
One of two flower-covered floats created by Homestead Gardens turns the corner from Riggs Avenue onto Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard during the July 4 Severna Park Parade. (Sharon Lee Tegler / Correspondent)

Blue skies greeted Severna Park Independence Day Parade participants as they assembled at staging areas on the parking lots St. Martin’s-in-the-Field and Our Shepherd Lutheran Churches. But it was blazing hot – a definite concern for Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce CEO Liz League as she organized her first parade.

The scene was chaotic as vehicles, floats and marchers swarmed both lots seeking their assigned places in the line-up. At 10 am the first units “stepped off” onto Benfield Road behind a Marine color guard marching toward Olde Severna Park.


Memories flooded back for Grand Marshall Linda Zahn and husband Steve as they waved to the crowd from the back of a 1957 Chevrolet convertible. As former chamber CEO and the parade’s organizer for 27 years, Zahn has decades’ worth of stories.

“My most amusing anecdote is that I was the Severna Park Falcon in my first parade,” Zahn said. “I started with the chamber in May of 1990 and one of my first big things was the July 4th parade. I felt the local high school mascot - the Falcon - should definitely be in the parade. No one was game for wearing the costume and marching with the school band so I said I'd do it.”


Zahn arrived at the staging area wearing the costume but didn't feel the Falcon should wear shoes. She gave her husband her shoes and he left. She planned to ride on a fire truck but the driver told her it would be against policy.

“I walked the entire parade route with the band. Needless to say, that asphalt was hot on July 4th in bare feet – a good reason to step lively, and I sure did.”

Forty-four years have passed since the late Hammond S. Carr and fellow Realtor Lew Heck originated the idea of a Fourth of July Parade in Severna Park. They decorated an old truck with streamers, loaded it with kids and drove up and down B&A Boulevard never dreaming the idea would survive. But survive it did and blossomed.

One of Anne Arundel County’s biggest events, the two-and-a-half hour salute to our nation’s independence draws people from across the county and further afield.

Watching from the hill in front of the Bank of America, Severna Park residents Bob and Chris Kosman said they were attending the parade for their 21st year. They remembered riding their bikes to the same spot as a family while their daughter was growing up.

Nearby, patriotically attired pup Steven watched attentively from a shady area with mistress Sarah Buttles and Zach Sanders from Alexandria, Virginia and Sarah’s mother Marci from Severna Park.

Forever evolving, this year’s parade had something of a commercial and political slant. However, it also featured many of the traditions spectators have come to expect.

The parade began with a procession of hook and ladder trucks and emergency vehicles from local fire companies including a 1918 vintage Republic fire truck to commemorate Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company’s 100th Anniversary in Severna Park.

The customary bicycle brigade of children competing in the Chamber’s “Decorated Bike Contest” rolled into town ahead of the lads from Cub Scout Pack 688 and Boy Scout Troop 450. The time-honored appearance of the Severna Park High School Marching Band was greeted with applause.

There were numerous vintage automobiles ranging from 1920’s-30’s era Ford Model A’s to 1950’s muscle cars and late model Corvettes.

New entries included members of the Pasadena Horse & Pony Association riding four handsome steeds. Elvis impersonator Greg Arnold’s performances aboard a flag-adorned float was cheered along the entire parade route. Arnold, a former Baltimore Oriole, is the husband of Partners In Care Executive Director Mandy Arnold.

Area businesses were represented by trucks displaying company logos or commercial category floats. They included the “cow-centric” Chick-fil-A float, two flower-covered Homestead Gardens floats, and a red, white and blue Garry’s Grill float with owner Eddie Conway onboard in star-studded jacket.


Fewer this year, community entries included Linstead’s “Serving The Community” float, Olde Severna Park’s colorful locomotive float, the Severna Park Community Center’s “Dance Center” float, and the Toast of Severna Park Toastmaster’s “Where Leaders Are Made” float.

Many spectators watched from beneath shady trees on the Woods Church lawn or along Cypress Creek Road at parade’s end. Having earlier marched, wearing his kilt on behalf of Park Deli, bagpiper Michael Binney relaxed there with wife Julie and children Eden, Andrew, Peter and Emily who rode on a float. Rescue dog Ronan, who marched with owner Laura Day wearing a star-flecked costume, also enjoyed resting in the shade.

All in all, League considered her first year as parade organizer a success but hopes to attract more neighborhood participation next year.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun