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July 4th fireworks move after nearly fizzling out

The Baltimore Sun

Some feared that 2007 would be the year without Fourth of July fireworks in Bel Air.

A reconstruction project at the usual staging site - Bel Air High School - sent event organizers searching for an alternate location for the show, which is attended by as many as 60,000 people.

After a couple of possible alternative sites fell through recently, pessimism grew. Word began circulating in the community in recent days that an optional site was up in the air, or worse, that the display might be canceled, said Don Stewart, president of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee.

But the committee announced Friday that the pyrotechnic show will go on, relocated to Rockfield Park.

"The display is attended by tens of thousands," Stewart said. "People actually come from around the country to reunite with their family. Clearly this is one of the events in Maryland.

"We're not going to let them down," he said.

The fireworks will be launched from the upper ball field near Route 22 starting about 9:45 p.m. July 4.

The display is the climax of a daylong schedule of traditional July Fourth events in Bel Air that kick off with a flag raising and pancake breakfast, and includes frog jumping, a bicycle rodeo, and a parade.

The flag raising and breakfast will remain at Bel Air High this year, but the building project at the school forced the relocation of other events.

The hamster race, frog jumping, turtle race, "Uncle Sam Says" and the watermelon-eating contest move to Shamrock Park; horseshoe pitching relocates to Rockfield Park; and the bicycle rodeo moves to the municipal parking lot next to the Bel Air library. The times for these events will be announced, Stewart said.

The parade will be moved to Bond Street because of a construction project on Main Street, Stewart said.

With the plans for the celebration mostly solidified, relief prevailed among Bel Air residents, including Mayor Terence O. Hanley.

"If we didn't have fireworks in Bel Air, I might not get re-elected," the mayor quipped. "I was sweating it."


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