Arbutus Fourth of July celebration offers hometown feeling

The Philippine Heritage Band travelled from Ontario, Canada to march in the Fourth of July Parade in Arbutus.
The Philippine Heritage Band travelled from Ontario, Canada to march in the Fourth of July Parade in Arbutus. (Staff photo by Sarah Pastrana)

Lured by its hometown feeling, Arbutus residents, and many others who don't live in the area, endured the heat and 100-degree plus temperatures to enjoy Wednesday afternoon's annual Fourth of July parade.

Glen Burnie residents David and Michele Melka and their three young children, Matthew, 4, Josephine, 2, and William, 5 months, managed to last almost to the end of the 90-minute parade, despite the heat.


"It's easy to get to, easy to get out," he said on their reasons for returning for a third year. "It's not as far to walk and it's much more accessible."

Michele said she was familiar with the area after working for Falter Fund Raising company on Benson Avenue in nearby Violetville

She said she liked "the family atmosphere" of the local parade.

"We love Arbutus," she said.

A welcome sight for many who lined both sides of East Drive were the representatives from Matt's House Church on East Drive who walked up and down the route handing out free bottles of ice cold water to any who asked.

Among those sitting along the route was Kensington resident Dennis Blair, who said he has been a faithful fan of the parade that makes it way down the heart of Arbutus for many years.

"It's very nice," said Blair, who grew up in southwest Baltimore.

He said his daughter, who usually joins him every summer in watching the parade, was in Florida this year. But her absence didn't keep him from coming to Arbutus for the traditional summer holiday celebration.

"The environment and the people," he said, keep him coming back.

"And the marching bands," he added.

Liz Madrzykowski was a fan of one particular band as she enjoyed her first Arbutus parade.

The Damascus resident was in town to photograph her daughter playing the trombone as a member of the UMBC Down and Dirty Dawg Band.

"This is very nice," she said, noting the small town feeling was similar to the Memorial Day event she enjoys in Old Town Gaithersburg.

In addition to the band from the nearby University of Maryland, Baltimore County, campus, the parade's musical units included:


• the Dixie Kats,

• the Dynasty Marching Unit from Baltimore,

• the Enfuzion Marching Unit from Anne Arundel County,

• the Cadets Drum Corps from Allentown, Pa.,

• Carolina Gold Marching Unit

• White Sabers Drum and Bugle Corps from upstate New York.

Sirens from the emergency vehicles of the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department, the Violetville Volunteer Fire Department and Baltimore County's Halethorpe Fire Department added to the sounds of the celebration.

Another unit making noise was the souped-up pickup truck that was part of the Arbutus Athletic Association's Golden Eagles football and cheerleading program.

"It's great. The kids loved it," said the truck's driver, Brendon Twilley, who is also of the program's Big Red semi-pro football program.

This was the first year the older football players had joined the parade, according to Sara March, who heads the cheerleading program.

"Everybody loved it," she said. "The kids really had fun decorating and hanging out with the semi-pros."

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger and the area's representatives in the General Assembly, state Sen. Edward Kasemeyer and Dels. James Malone and Steven DeBoy rode in the parade.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk braved the heat and walked.

"People are really hot. There were a lot of tents, a lot of people in the shade," Quirk said.

Quirk, who had to hurry from the Arbutus parade to take part in the Catonsville parade later in the afternoon, noted he had spent the entire morning in Arbutus.

He said he began the day with the annual Arbutus Firecracker 10K at 8 a.m., then took part in the annual ceremony later in the morning at the flag pole hosted by American Legion Dewey Lowman Post 109.

"I like to shake hands, say hi to people," he said."It's a great parade."