Opinion: Many hands and smiling faces contributed to success of Bel Air Christmas parade

For The Aegis

I would like to thank citizens of Bel Air for their attendance and enthusiasm at the town’s Christmas parade and celebration this past Sunday. My wife and I walked the route and we were pleased to see so many children enjoying the sights and sounds.

The joy on the faces of the kids and families reflected the values of our community and the love we have for this season.

The parade includes many different kinds of units, from marching bands to dog units, and this year’s parade included a number of elaborate and creative floats.

Special thanks to the hard-working volunteers who put the celebration together, especially our parade marshals — Annette Blum, Elise Gerard, Trish Heidenreich, Angela Robertson, Patti Sterling, Hope Yamagata and a hard-working group of Bel Air High School students, members of the National Honor Society under the supervision of Kelly Blackburn. These students showed intelligence and leadership as they coped with staging and parade deployment. It takes a lot of people to keep a parade in order, and all these volunteers worked beautifully together.

The celebration was supported by a host of people including Mayor Susan Burdette, town commissioners Patrick Richards, Brendan Hopkins, Philip Einhorn and Amy Chmielewski, Town Manager L. Jesse Bane, Chief of Police Charles Moore and Deputy Chief Richard Peschek, Director of Economic Development Trish Heidenreich, Director of Public Works Stephen Kline and many others. Public works staff Freddy Murillo and Ryan Ramer seemed to be everywhere — long after the celebration was over, I saw Freddy working on a light display at the parking garage.

The parade was sponsored by Patient First, with units sponsored by businesses including Buontempo Brothers Pizzeria/Tower Restaurant, Corbin Fuel Company, Cramer & Noorani Orthodontics, Harford Mutual Insurance Co., JET Seal Services, Jones Junction, Howard Bank, Klein’s ShopRite of Harford County, Music Land, Safe Harbors Travel, Sunny Day Cafe, Tar Heel Construction and Zips Dry Cleaners.

So many people come together to help out: Jay van Deusen built the bonfire; Dina Boebel and Trish Heidenreich decorated the reviewing stand; Dina Boebel and her family of elves handed out candy canes. Country Britches Store allowed the parade to use its rooms for "costumed character" changing; parade banners were carried by members of Cub Scout Pack 777, organized by Hope Yamagat.

Parade judges — Yolanda Curtin, Mimi Cooper and Susan Hazlett, assisted by Trish Heidenreich — determined the following results: Aberdeen High School Marching Band took first place; Girl Scouts Troop 1822 – Community 80, captured second place; Old Line Soccer Academy, won third place; Girl Scouts Homestead Wakefield Cluster, received first honorable mention; Society of Italian-American Businessmen, garnered second honorable mention. Thanks to all the parade entries.

Kristy Breslin from WJZ-TV narrated the proceedings, and entertainment was provided by the Route 66 Band. Speaking of music, it was great to hear the school bands from Aberdeen, Bel Air, C. Milton Wright, Edgewood, Fallston, Harford Technical, John Carroll, Joppatowne, North Harford and Patterson Mill high schools.

Christine McPherson and Jennifer Falcone of the Downtown Alliance managed Shamrock Park, where people enjoyed music, hot chocolate and cookies.

After the parade, Jim McMahan led the crowd at Shamrock Park in Christmas Carols, accompanied by a wonderful performance by the Bel Air Community Band led by Scott Sharnetzka. Carols were also sung by the Just Having Fun Singers.

We also shared the traditional tree lighting.

Thanks to the Town of Bel Air for having the heart and sensitivity to mount this celebration. The holiday season — whether one celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or any other holiday — is one of joy and a time to celebrate life and family, charity and community. It is the season of hope, birth and rebirth, and of the fellowship of humankind.

As the days grow dark and cold, we illuminate and warm our community and our lives with the love we share through events such as this.

Michael Blum, parade chairman

Bel Air Christmas Celebration 2018

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