Parade puts people in the holiday spirit

It wouldn't quite be the Fourth of July without a good parade, and hundreds of people lined the downtown streets of Towson yesterday for that area's annual celebration.

The customary gathering of colorful marching bands, waving politicians in fancy cars, shiny red fire trucks and war veterans in their military uniforms sparked a range of emotions from watchers.


The youngsters thought it was fun, but many of the adults knew it was much more.

"It was a lot of fun because I got to be in it and pass out candy and see people that I know watching us," said Danielle Esenwine, 11, of Lutherville, whose Girl Scout troop was part of the parade.


"It really kind of gives you goose bumps seeing all this - the red, white and blue, the marching bands," said Randall Esenwine, Danielle's father, who remembers attending the Towson-area Fourth of July parade as a child.

"With so much negative going on and being said, and with the war right now," he said, "this just puts some patriotism back in you and makes you feel good all over."

A number of Maryland communities held Fourth of July parades yesterday, while more are scheduled for today and tomorrow.

The grand marshal for yesterday's Towson parade was Dr. Peter C. Agre, a Johns Hopkins professor who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry last year.

"I'm not a ballplayer or a professional wrestler, so I'm sure a lot of people were wondering 'Who is that?'" Agre said yesterday with a laugh. He rode in the back of a black Chrysler convertible with his wife, Mary.

"But a few people called us by our name, so that was nice," he said. "It was all very touching, quite an honor. There's been a lot of hoopla with the Nobel, and I'm glad people think well of us."

Agre, who lives in Towson, won the prestigious award for discovering aquaporins - proteins that govern the movement of water in and out of cells.

His discovery has led to promising research for areas such as anti-malaria drugs, kidney ailments, brain swelling after strokes, and lung problems in premature babies.


Agre's car was followed by a string of others carrying politicians, led by Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes.

Then came the colorful - and sometimes unusual - exhibits and the patriotic participants.

There were Pearl Harbor survivors, an old horse-drawn fire truck, Korean War veterans, a pipe band, a Dixieland band in a boat on wheels, a man pulling a dog on a skateboard, and the Orioles mascot, who was weaving in and out of the slow-paced parade on a scooter and slapping high-fives with children in the crowd.

"This is the first time I've come to this parade, and it's a good one," said Julie Pope of Mount Washington, who viewed it with her husband, Darrell, and their 14-month-old son. "Watching him [her son] see all this stuff for the first time is fun. He's in awe."

On the minds of some parade-watchers as they celebrated the country's birthday early were the Americans involved in combat in Iraq.

"For us, supporting our American troops is something you have to do, and that makes it important to be out here for things like this," said Todd Krombholz, who was visiting the area from Jacksonville, Fla., and watching the parade with his son, Hunter, 7, and his daughter Kylie, 4.


"For them [the children], this is a once-of-a-year thing," said Krombholz, wearing shorts and a bandanna decorated with prints of the American flag. "But it really is not just a once-a-year thing. It kind of embodies everything this country is about."

Dwight Wallin was visiting relatives from Mankato, Minn., where even at this time of year the weather can get a bit cool.

"From what we've seen of the parade so far, we're enjoying it," Wallin said an hour into the two-hour procession.

"And thank you for the warm weather," he added. "It's beautiful outside today."