Roland Park's Fourth of July parade draws a (political) crowd

"Laid-back" is how Chris McSherry, president of the Roland Park Civic League, described the neighborhood's annual Fourth of July Parade. It was so laid back that McSherry, shortly before the parade was set to start, was walking around, asking prominent parade goers if they wanted to serve as grand marshal.

"If you can't find anyone else," said City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, smartly dressed in a red, white and blue outfit.


Soon, McSherry found her man — Council President Bernard C. 'Jack' Young, who donned a tall, patriotic hat and a white beard.

"He's graciously agreed to wear the silly hat and lead the parade, so he's our grand marshal this year," said McSherry, who emceed the traditional pre-parade gathering outside the Roland Park Library as a light rain gave way to sunshine.

McSherry made a few community announcements, including reminding residents to take valuables out of their cars and lock their windows at home in light of a recent uptick in burglaries and larceny from auto. She also said the city would be doing sewer upgrades in the Deepdene Road area starting Monday, and that a community campaign for faster and cheaper broadband Internet service was going citywide.

Also turning out for the parade was Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, wearing a white blouse, red pants and a large blue ring.

"Good morning, Roland Park," the mayor shouted to a crowd of about 400 residents, dragging the words out like actor Robin Williams saying, "Good morning, Vietnam," in the movie of the same name.

She said she couldn't attend Mount Washington's parade and festivities, or the scheduled Ports America Chesapeake 4th of July Celebration scheduled in the evening because she had a speaking engagement in New Orleans.

Also there were City Councilwoman Sharon Green Middleton and State Del. Sandy Rosenberg, who read from the Declaration of Independence, as he does most years. Holding the flag for the Pledge of Allegiance was Dorothy Baker, 10, a rising fifth grader at McDonogh School in Owings Mills.

Then, the crowd was off, parading down Roland Avenue to Roland Park Presbyterian Church on foot, on bikes and trikes, and in little red wagons. The parade featured not one, but two dogs named Shelby — one a great Dane owned by Spencer Schmidt, 10, and his family; the other, part Australian cattle dog, being walked by Martha Marani because its owner, Kate Culotta was on vacation in Myrtle Beach.

Both Shelbys wore Fourth-ish scarves.

Waiting for everyone at the church were the traditional red, white and blue Popsicles, plus bottles of water. And as the sun got brighter, children cooled off courtesy of the local fire station, which sprayed them with hoses from Engine 44.