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Black Eyed Suzie’s to keep tradition alive and host July 4 pancake breakfast in Bel Air

A pancake chef flips a blueberry pancake during the July 4 pancake breakfast at Bel Air High School in this 2017 file photo. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the high school will not be able to host the breakfast this year. Black Eyed Suzie's on Main Street stepped up to July 4 pancake breakfast, starting at 7:30 a.m. Sunday.
A pancake chef flips a blueberry pancake during the July 4 pancake breakfast at Bel Air High School in this 2017 file photo. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the high school will not be able to host the breakfast this year. Black Eyed Suzie's on Main Street stepped up to July 4 pancake breakfast, starting at 7:30 a.m. Sunday. (Aegis staff photos by Matt Button, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Fourth of July in Bel Air wouldn’t be the same without starting the day with the pancake breakfast, but COVID protocols from county schools aren’t allowing the Bel Air High School Athletic Boosters to have the annual feast at the school as in years past.

Enter Black Eyed Suzie’s restaurant, which has stepped up to make sure the pancake tradition continues in 2021.

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The restaurant, located at the corner of South Main Street and East Churchville Road in Bel Air, will open at 7:30 a.m. Sunday and serve pancakes until 10:15 a.m. or until they run out.

The pancake breakfast will be served on a first-come, first-served basis, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page. “We will begin serving our regular menu and brunch menu directly after pancakes!,” the post says.

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The cost for the pancake breakfast is $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 10 and younger — the same as the Boosters had been charging in recent years. Breakfast sausage, coffee and juice are also included in the meal. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, which plans the parade, fireworks and other July 4 activities in town.

Black Eyed Suzie’s bar will serve bloody marys and mimosas during the breakfast for an additional cost.

“We are so happy to be part of this community and are excited to keep this tradition alive until next year, when everything is fully back to normal,” the Facebook post says.

Bel Air Mayor Amy Chmielewski and Commissioner Erin Hughes met with Brian Acquavella, the restaurant’s owner, last week to see if he’d be interested in hosting the breakfast. The Facebook post notes that “Bel Air would be pancake-less” if not for the efforts of the elected officials.

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Chmielewski said there will be both inside and outside buffet lines.

“Some people still don’t want to eat inside,” she said.

The Town of Bel Air is working on sending volunteers to help with clean-up and helping funnel people through to get as many people fed as possible. Chmielewski said there have been upward of 2,000 people who have attended the pancake breakfast at the high school in years past, but she doesn’t expect that many this year.

The pancake breakfast dates back several decades and was put on by various community organizations over the years, according to members of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee. Most recently, the breakfast has been run by the Bel Air High School Athletic Boosters.

Organizers thought the breakfast wouldn’t happen this year because of COVID-19 protocols that are keeping school buildings closed to the general public.

Harford County Public Schools is awaiting new cleaning and sanitation guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionbefore it reopens school facilities to the community members for sports and other activities, Cornell Brown, the assistant superintendent for operations, said at a recent Board of Education meeting.

Karsyn Hogan of Bel Air, waves her colors she's just gotten from Paul Raub of the Bel Air Lions Club in this file photo from the 2019 Bel Air Independence Day parade.
Karsyn Hogan of Bel Air, waves her colors she's just gotten from Paul Raub of the Bel Air Lions Club in this file photo from the 2019 Bel Air Independence Day parade. (Phil Grout / For The Baltimore Sun)

Fireworks, parade and more

The pancake breakfast is among a litany of Independence Day activities in town Sunday that are returning after being canceled by the pandemic last year.

Representatives from American Legion Posts 39 and 55 and Disabled American Veterans Chapter 30 will raise the flag at Bel Air High School at 6:45 a.m.

Other flag raising ceremonies will follow at Rockfield Park, Shamrock Park and the Hickory parking lot across from the Bel Air library before activities begin there.

Horseshoe pitching at Rockfield Park begins at 8:30 a.m.

Family activities start at 9 a.m. in Shamrock Park, including a water-balloon toss, Uncle Sam Says and a watermelon-eating contest.

Delaney Weaver, right, and friend Sydney Rubinstein, left, of Bel Air keep munching on their watermelon during the watermelon eating contest during the July 4 morning events at Shamrock Park in 2019.
Delaney Weaver, right, and friend Sydney Rubinstein, left, of Bel Air keep munching on their watermelon during the watermelon eating contest during the July 4 morning events at Shamrock Park in 2019. (Matt Button / The Aegis / Baltimore Sun)

At 11 a.m., the Bel Air Police Department will host the popular Bicycle Rodeo in the parking lot at South Hickory Avenue.

The parade, with the theme “Honoring Our Healthcare Heroes” and led by grand marshal Miss Bel Air Chiamaka Ezeonyebuchi, will feature classic vehicles, floats, marching units, performance groups and others.

The parade will step off at 6 p.m. at the intersection of Idlewild and South Main streets and proceed to the intersection of East Gordon Street and North Main Street, at the “Welcome to Bel Air” sign.

For the first time, the Harford Cable Network will broadcast the parade, including a livestream on its Facebook page.

“We’re thrilled to welcome HCN as our broadcast partner this year,” committee member Aaron Cahall said. “This was an especially important year to be able to offer an accessible broadcast of the parade, for anyone who isn’t able to make it out in person or would prefer to view it from the comfort of their own home.”

Fireworks, the main attraction of the day, will be launched from Rockfield Park around 9:30 p.m., and can be viewed from multiple locations around town.

If for any reason the parade or fireworks must be canceled, they will not be rescheduled. A full schedule of events is available on the Independence Day Committee website, belairjuly4.org.

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