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Thanks for help with Bel Air holiday celebration | COMMENTARY

On behalf of the Town of Bel Air, I want to thank the greater Bel Air community for its wonderful attendance and support of the 31st Bel Air Christmas Parade and Christmas Celebration held Dec. 5.

This year’s weather was of course just about perfect, and the energy, joy, happiness and sheer bliss of the spectators of all ages was wonderful to see. The size of the crowd was tremendous — certainly one of the largest ever! In these days of doubt, worry, fear and sometimes bad feelings, it’s revivifying to see such support and community togetherness! We are lucky to live in such an area, and to have such citizens turn out. Bel Air is indeed a wonderful, family-friendly place, and it’s events like this that make that clearly apparent to all.

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The parade includes many different kinds of units, from marching bands to walking dogs, and this year’s parade included many very elaborate and creative floats. Overall, the Bel Air Christmas Parade is all about kids. Hundreds of kids aged from toddlers through teenagers participated in it and many more watched it. To see their commitment, organization, dedication and wonderful good spirits made me, for one, very, very optimistic about the future of our community and of our nation. And I want to thank their parents and families for supporting these wonderful children.

Special thanks must go to the many hardworking volunteers who put the entire celebration together, especially including volunteer National Honor Society member students from Bel Air High School under the leadership of Kelly Blackburn. Adult volunteers included Annette Blum, Aaron Cahall, Elise Gerard, Trish Heidenreich, Julia Potler, Angela Robertson, David Williams, Hope Yamagata and Stephanie Zahn. Dina Boebel and Trish Heidenreich decorated the reviewing stand, which was provided courtesy of Harford County Parks & Recreation.

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Special thanks also go to the Town of Bel Air Commissioners Kevin M. Bianca, chair and mayor; Donna L. Kahoe, vice chair; and Mary F. Chance, Paula S. Etting and Erin S. Hughes — without whose support this event could not occur.

The Bel Air Christmas Celebration is a function of the Town of Bel Air Economic Development, Trish Heidenreich, economic development director; and of the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, Jenny Falcone, executive director. Local business major sponsors included overall “Parade Sponsor” Patient First, Main Street Tower Restaurant, Zips Dry Cleaning, Safe Harbors Travel, Harford Mutual Insurance Company, BCV Commercial Realty, J.E.T. Seal Services, Tar Heel Construction, Jones Junction Auto Dealerships, Noorani Orthodontics, Corbin Fuel Company, Sunny Day Cafe, Music Land, Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland and Har-Co Credit Union. Sponsor Banners were carried by members of Cub Scout Pack 777, a great group of kids from all over the Bel Air area from first grade to fifth grade.

The event also relied on the Town of Bel Air Administration, led by Town Manager Jesse Bane, the Bel Air Police Department, led by Chief of Police Chuck Moore and Sgt. James Farrell, and the Bel Air Department of Public Works, led by Director Stephen Kline and his hardworking corps, especially including Harry Marr, who was in charge of all DPW efforts on Dec. 5.

Special thanks also goes to our local high school bands in the parade, from Aberdeen High School, Bel Air High School, C. Milton Wright High School, Edgewood High School, Fallston High School, Harford Technical High School, the John Carroll School, Joppatowne High School, North Harford High School and Patterson Mill High School.

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The parade featured almost 70 different units. Parade judges, who are anonymous, awarded Best in Pararde to the Aberdeen High School Marching Eagles band, under the direction of Kaitlyn Whitman. This was the second consecutive honor for Aberdeen. Second place was Girl Scouts Service Unit #674. Third place was the Hoppin’ Hawks Jump Rope Team. Honorable mentions were Bel Air Dance Academy, Silver Eagle Cloggers and the Gunpowder Mill Racers bicycle unit.

Kristy Breslin of WJZ-TV was the master of Cceremonies, narrating the parade from the reviewing stand, and Bel Air police officer Rick Krause narrated the post-parade concert from the Shamrock Park Bandshell. Members of the Downtown Alliance served hot chocolate and cookies to the crowd, while the Bel Air Community Band, in its first bandshell performance in 21 months, serenaded the crowd with Christmas music, conducted by Richard Hauf in his debut as Community Band leader. A bonfire was tended by Jay Van Deusen with the help of Bel Air DPW workers, who contributed 31 pallets and stood by with the water truck! At 4:50 p.m., there was the traditional “tree lighting,” created by the Town of Bel Air Public Works Department.

On a personal note, I want to thank the Town of Bel Air for having the heart and sensitivity to mount such a celebration. The holiday season, whether one celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, or any other holiday, is one of joy, and is the time to celebrate light, life and family, and to give to charity and to the community. It is the season of hope, birth and rebirth, and of the fellowship and community of humankind.

As the days grow dark and cold, we illuminate and warm our lives by the love we share through events like this. We look forward to the return of light, warmth and growth, both physical and spiritual, in the New Year, and we pray for peace for us, for our community, and for all humanity.

Michael Blum

Blum is the parade chairman of the Bel Air Christmas Celebration 2021

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