July 16, 2018
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Fourth Of July Parade Highlights Community Service With Linda Zahn As Grand Marshal

Dylan Roche
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July 2, 2018

Ask anyone from Severna Park about their plans for the Fourth of July, and you might hear about a barbecue or fireworks.

You hardly need to ask, however, where they’ll be that morning. They, along with the rest of town, will likely be lining the streets of Benfield Road, Evergreen Road or Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard at 10:00am for the community’s biggest event of the year: the Fourth of July Parade, presented by the Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce.

With the theme “Serving our country, serving our community,” this year’s parade will honor the chamber’s recently retired CEO, Linda Zahn, as its grand marshal, and the lineup of registered entries is already shaping up to be an eclectic mix of entertainment for the crowd.

“We have close to 90 entries, so it’s going to be everything under the sun,” said Liz League, who stepped into the role of CEO at the beginning of 2018 and is undertaking her first year organizing and planning the parade. “It’s exciting. The parade is one of the largest in Maryland. We’re one of the few chambers that have an event like this.”

For Zahn, who planned nearly 30 parades since she was hired by the chamber in 1990, this year’s event will mean something a little different. “It feels great — being grand marshal is a great honor,” she said. “The parade is a nice memory, but it’s nice to be on the other side of it.”

Zahn will lead the parade as she rides in a 1957 Chevrolet (1957 being the year the chamber was founded). This year marks the first time Zahn has been in the parade since her first year organizing it, when she wore the Falcon costume and marched with the Severna Park High School band in 1990 — still her most vivid memory out of all the years.

“It was my first parade and I’ll never forget it,” she said with a laugh. “I thought there should be a mascot for the high school, but nobody would wear the costume.”

So Zahn donned the head-to-foot Falcon costume herself. “I was barefoot because I thought I would be riding on a fire truck, but the fire truck couldn’t carry anyone who isn’t authorized personnel,” she explained.

Thus, she walked the 2-mile parade route in her bare feet while enduring the July heat in the Falcon costume. “It was fun. I wouldn’t do it again, but it was fun,” she said.

Over the years, the parade has brought many good memories for Zahn as she watched the parade grow — sometimes reaching as many as 125 entries — and she developed an organized process that runs like clockwork. She also consistently ensured the parade started on time. “We always stepped off at 10:00am, except one year when the grand marshal was coming from out of the area and was late,” she said. “Otherwise, it's always been on time.”

Zahn will ride as the grand marshal alongside her husband, Steve, who was one of her most loyal parade volunteers. “The parade has been a family affair for us,” she said. “Adam, my son, has helped Steve for years. Alicia, my daughter, has been in charge of the hospitality tent for the platinum sponsors since I started including that in the premium-level platinum sponsorship.”

In addition to Zahn as the grand marshal, the parade will feature the Severna Park High School marching band, local Elvis impersonator Greg Arnold, baton twirlers, Polynesian dancers, antique cars, martial arts demonstrations, rescue dogs, volunteer fire departments, candidates for public office, local neighborhoods and businesses, and much, much more.

Prizes will be awarded to floats and walking units in 12 categories: Best Overall, Best Theme, Most Patriotic, and first, second and third place for Best Commercial, Community and Organization/Club/Nonprofit entries.

For youngsters interested in showing off their individual patriotic spirit, the annual decorated bike contest will be held the morning of July 4. Children of all ages can bring their decorated bikes, trikes and wagons to the chamber office at 1 Holly Avenue by 9:15am (no advance registration necessary) for exhibition and adjudication. Prizes will be awarded compliments of Franklin’s Toys, and all entries in the decorated bike contest will get to ride in the parade for the last stretch of the route.

For more information or answers to any questions about the parade, contact League at info@gspacc.com.


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