Sonner Santana, of Havre de Grace, usually has to work the weekend of her city’s annual Independence Day parade, but she took off Sunday to see her daughter, Miranda Rodriguez’s, first performance with the Havre de Grace High School Warrior Pride marching band.
“It was great to see her parading,” Santana said. “It was wonderful — I think I was happier than her.”
Miranda, 14, is going into the ninth grade at HHS; she was in the band’s color guard. She met up with her family along Union Avenue after the parade.
“It was fun,” she said. “It was hot, it was hard, but it was lots of fun.”
The Warrior Pride band also performed at the Darlington Independence Day Celebration Saturday, and is scheduled to perform at community Independence Day parades in Kingsville and Bel Air on Wednesday.
“It feels nice to represent the school and to walk around and show the school,” Miranda said.
The downtown parade, which has been a mainstay of Havre de Grace’s annual Independence Day celebration for decades, lasted about two hours and drew participants from around Harford County, the state and the region.
A First Friday-style block party in the downtown shopping district along North Washington Street followed, along with a Battle of the Bands concert in Concord Point Park and an Amish Outlaws concert in Hutchins Park, both on the Susquehanna River waterfront.
The celebration ended with a fireworks show, with fireworks shot from a barge in the river.
All events were coordinated by the city’s Independence Day Commission.
“It’s been going great, a good, hot day but lots of community support, that’s what we need,” commission chair Christy Silverstein said.
The parade route started at Warren Street and Union Avenue, ran south on Union and ended near Tydings Park. People sat on chairs or lounged on blankets on both sides of the street, or watched from front porches and houses on Union as well as the University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital parking deck or the Havre de Grace Library.
About 90 groups participated, Taryn Martin, parade coordinator for the Independence Day Commission, said.
The groups included high school and professional marching bands, dance groups, sitting elected officials representing the city and county, as well as state legislators, even U.S. Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, plus representatives of Aberdeen Proving Ground, according to Martin.
“It was a great showing of patriotism and community spirit, and we just had a wonderful time today,” she said.
The parade theme was “Havre de Grace Honors America’s Volunteers.”
The parade was led by grand marshal Don Osman, a retired Havre de Grace High School teacher who founded the student community service group SMILES, helped raise money to build Havre de Grace High’s James R. Harris Stadium and coordinates the annual Havre de Grace community Thanksgiving dinner.
Seven nominees for grand marshal were behind Osman, according to Martin.
“We honored all of our volunteers in this year’s parade,” she said.
Spectator Lori Roland, of Cecil County, said she really liked the theme of honoring volunteers. She and her family support local food banks, and Perryville Middle School, where she works as a school counselor.
Roland’s 8-year-old daughter, Allie, said she enjoyed seeing dancers, and her 6-year-old daughter, Aubrey, enjoyed participants dressed as the Tooth Fairy who gave out toothbrushes.
Roland’s 13-year-old niece, Olivia Hafner, said she liked the marching bands.
“Those were my favorite,” Olivia said.
Roland and her family attend the parade every year.
“Just the patriotism of it, we like to stand up for the veterans and salute our heroes,” she said.
With 2018 being an election year, parade spectators saw a number of candidates in the parade or their supporters among the crowd, seeking votes.
Craig Wolf, the Republican nominee for Maryland’s attorney general, was one of those candidates in the crowd Sunday afternoon. He walked up and down the Union Avenue parade route, greeting spectators and handing them campaign literature.
“It was amazing,” Wolf, a Howard County resident, said when asked his impression of the parade. “It was huge — I didn’t know where it started and where it ended.”
Wolf is running against incumbent Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat.
Wolf, who said his campaign is “focused on public safety, not politics,” praised the volunteer fire and EMS companies and law enforcement agencies that took part in the parade.
“They’re the people who have our backs in society, and unfortunately, too often, they don’t get enough credit,” he said.
City resident Bob Greene is a member of the CAT Club of Havre de Grace, which had a float in the parade. The volunteer Citizens Against Trash organization works to clean up litter and inspire others to do the same with initiatives such as “Adopt a Block.”
Greene was along Union Avenue after the parade, picking up small pieces of plastic and paper litter in the grass between the sidewalk and street.
“I can’t help it, I’ve got to pick it up,” he said. “If I see it, I’ve got to pick it up.”
Greene, a former human resources director for Harford County and a businessman who is retired, is an advocate for civility as well as the CAT Club.
Harford County kicked off its “Choose Civility” campaign last week.
The CAT Club is under the umbrella of the nonprofit Community Projects of Havre de Grace.
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“I’m hoping that people will change their behavior and not litter and pick up litter when they see it,” Greene said when asked what he hopes people would take away from the parade.