A fun-filled day of family events is on tap for Bel Air's Fourth of July, the area's largest patriotic celebration.
The day will start at 6:45 a.m. with the traditional flag-raising ceremony in front of Bel Air High School, conducted by the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 30 and American Legion Post 39 and featuring the national anthem performed by Miss Bel Air Independence Day Laura Patnaude. Patnaude was named Miss Congeniality at the Miss Maryland competition in Hagerstown on June 22.
The annual Blueberry Pancake and Sausage Breakfast will follow from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Breakfast is $6 for adults and $4 for children under 10, with entry on the side entrance of Bel Air High School facing Baltimore Pike. More than 2,000 people annually start their day off at the breakfast, which supports the day-long series of events.
The nearby Hays House will offer tours and activities starting at 9 a.m. Docents in period costumes will offer short tours of the historic home, which dates to the late 18th century, and children's activities and games will be available. The Catherine Street Consort will perform period music and country dance tunes.
Over at Rockfield Park, registration for both the singles and doubles single-elimination horseshoe pitching tournaments kicks off at 8 a.m. The first round of singles games starts at 8:30 a.m., with doubles competition following as horseshoe pits and players become available. The regionally-anticipated event draws approximately 100 players each year to the pits.
Several traditional animal events will return to Shamrock Park this year; however, hamster races are not scheduled for 2013. Registration for the turtle races will begin at 8:45 a.m., with the races starting at 9 a.m. Registration for the frog jumping contest will begin at 9:30 a.m. and the jumping will begin at 10 a.m. This year, the Bel Air Kiwanis will take over as organizers of both events. Entrants are limited to one frog and one turtle each; for regulations on the types and sizes of frogs and turtles allowed to compete, go to http://www.belairjuly4.org.
Also in Shamrock Park, Uncle Sam Says returns at 11 a.m., for age groups 5 to 7, 8 to 10, 11 to 13 and 14 to adult. Another local favorite, the watermelon eating contest, begins at 11:30 a.m., with trophies for ages 6 and younger, 7 to 10, 11 to 16 and 17 to adult.
Because of construction at the Pennsylvania Avenue parking lot, the bicycle rodeo will be held at Bel Air Elementary School at 11 a.m. Trophies will be awarded for the best decorated bike for both boys and girls, with awards for ages 5 and younger, 6 to 8, 9 and 10 and 11 to 13.
The patriotic celebration continues later in the evening, with the Bel Air July 4 Parade stepping off from the intersection of East Gordon Street and North Main Street at 6 p.m., and a spectacular fireworks display starting at approximately 9:30 a.m. from Rockfield Park.