Large crowd gathers on Main Street for Bel Air's Fourth of July parade

Bel Air's annual Fourth of July parade went off without a hitch Wednesday evening, even with its slightly modified new parade route.

Floats, cars, bands and other participants began at Gordon Street and the parade made its way down Main Street, south toward Idlewild Road.

Chairs and blankets lined the grass and sidewalks along Main Street since Tuesday, reserving prime spots to watch the parade, which drew hundreds, if not more than a thousand people.

Margaret Beain sat outside of Carried Away Gourmet near the curb with her husband, Andrew, and daughter, Ana.

The family has lived in Bel Air for the past eight years and Beain said this was her fifth or sixth time watching the parade.

"It's fun," she said. "I like the bands."

Beain, however, is a little biased when it comes the marching bands - her son plays saxophone in the John Carroll band.

Earlier that day, the Beains ate at the pancake breakfast held every year at Bel Air High School and, the mom said, the event "was mobbed."

"It's always a lot of fun, though," Beain said.

That evening's parade was the first Kim Sullivan and her family had been to since 2005.

Every year the family would go on vacation, but this was the first year in a while the Sullivans were in town for Independence Day.

Plus, Sullivan, her husband and two kids were able to score a great spot right outside Shamrock Coffee Company.

"We're starting a new family tradition," Sullivan said. The family had a cookout earlier in the day and looked forward to the parade.

The floats, she said, would be "really cool for my kids [to see]."

Don Morrison, the former director of public information for Harford County Public Schools, was the master of ceremonies and announced participants as they rolled down Main Street.

Morrison said it was the 49th Bel Air Fourth of July parade.

Bel Air Police Chief Leo Matrangola and the rest of the Bel Air Police Department led the parade, followed by Miss Bel Air Independence Day 2012 Stephanie Meadowcroft.

People, organizations and companies from all over Harford County were represented in the parade, which lasted for more than an hour.

The Marine Corps League and Disabled American Veterans received salutes and "thank yous" from the crowd.

Mayor and Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company Chief Eddie Hopkins and the other town commissioners waved to the crowd.

Bel Air, C. Milton Wright, Havre de Grace and John Carroll high schools all had marching bands performing various patriotic songs in the parade.

The Bel Air Rotary Club and Oak Grove Baptist Church both had patriotic floats - Oak Grove with a War of 1812-themed float and the Rotary Club had members wearing Uncle Sam hats.

Uncle Sam made several appearances during the parade, some riding on unicycles and others on stilts.

Most of Harford County's council members, delegates and senators also greeted the crowd from vehicles.

The biggest reaction, however, came from the mini horses, which got "oohs and aahs" from children.

Michelle Flores was one who loved the horses.

She and her family from Essex came to Bel Air because her girlfriend works in town and, as she explained, the family "didn't have anything else to do."

Flores said the parade was reminiscent of the small town events she would see growing up in Garrett County.

"It's really good," she said of the parade. "I love it."

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