Before The Fourth, Volunteers Spent Countless Hours Designing and Decorating Floats
By Peter Crispino
Hundreds of floats marched past overjoyed onlookers during the Severna Park Fourth of July Parade thanks to the thousands of hours of preparation put in by throngs of volunteers. The finished products ranged from elaborate, professionally crafted structures to kid-designed decorative displays.
Despite Mother Natures best efforts, nearly 100 groups weathered the heat, wind and power outages to assemble their patriotic submissions that made the annual parade even more memorable.
The Severna Park Elks Lodge, winner of the best overall title, used their float to celebrate the bicentennial of the Battle of Fort McHenry and the penning of the National Anthem. Three of their members built a 12-foot ship, complete with three full masts and a steering wheel modeled after the old vessels.
Aboard were cannons, firecrackers, a mock fort and of course, the American flag. The three men put in dozens of hours creating the massive wooden structure, which was perched atop a flatbed truck.
It took us about three days we probably spent 12 hours each day working on it, said Robert Boggs, one of the designers. Were all craftsmen weve got one retired builder and two other builders, so we all think the same way.
Last year, the same group won first place for their Blue Angel float, which was submitted through Coldwell Banker. This year, Boggs explained they put in even more work to make their entry bigger and better.
Were really enthused about this. Last year I think we overdid it, and this year we really overdid it even more, he said.
The motivation for the hours upon hours of preparation is twofold for Boggs. I love my country and I love the people that we serve in the community, he noted. When we turn onto Evergreen Street, it is absolutely packed. We had people crying last year. Its so rewarding to see people get so enthused about what youre doing and why youre doing it.
While the Elks float took months of preparation, many of the other groups were still working on finishing their float just hours before the parade. No group had to scramble as much as the Green Hornets Cheerleaders, who had their plans to use a hay wagon fall through just a few days before the event. Cathy Stamper, the teams parade chair, worked the phones all weekend trying to secure a new wagon. Finally, Sunrise Farm in Gambrills donated their huge hay wagon free of charge, saving the day for the Green Hornets girls.
The team got to work on the Tuesday evening before the parade, filling the wagon with bales of hay, hanging decorations and covering the outside with streamers of red, white and blue bunting. By Wednesday morning, the wagon had been transformed into a patriotic float.
The team chanted cheers and passed out lollipops, while some of their brothers dressed as Uncle Sam and waved to the crowd. Like Boggs, Stamper said she and the squad participate out of pride for their country and community.
The parade combines two of my favorite things Independence Day and cheerleading, Stamper said. I love the Fourth of July and I love how Severna Park does such a terrific job of bringing everyone in the community together to celebrate.
Over at Solar Energy Services, Lisa Walsh spearheaded the effort to turn a work trailer into a stage for a five-man Dixieland band called The Happy Houlihans. The group also cleverly tied their company message into their float, stressing energy independence with a large banner reading Solar Is Freedom.
On Wednesday, The Happy Houlihans performed sunshine-themed songs to fit with the floats theme, Sunshines A Wasting, but on Tuesday the focus was on hanging signs, flags and a multitude of other decorations, including the last-minute addition of a large umbrella to keep the performers somewhat shaded from the scorching sun.
We did the parade last year and it was kind of last minute we put balloons on three of our trucks but we didnt really create a float, Walsh noted. This year we wanted something bigger. Honestly I think the idea of the Dixieland band tied in really well with the old-school American parade feel.
Olde Severna Park took a simple but adorable approach to their parade participation. The children in the group put their handprints on a giant banner which read Free to Be Me and decorated all of their bikes with streamers and balloons, riding behind a red convertible which blasted Sammy Davis Jr.s Ive Gotta Be Me.
The children and families gathered at Hatton Memorial Beach the night before the parade to put together the decorations and start the celebration early. The youngsters designed and decorated their own T-shirts and fixed balloons and streamers to their bicycles.
Before the kids arrived at the beach, parade coordinator Caroline Noyes and lifeguards Victoria Wood and Marissa Hand were faced with the painstaking task of untangling dozens of helium balloons that had become a twisted bundle of string thanks to the blustery wind. The haphazard arrangement fit in appropriately with the groups plans for the parade.
The floats are getting so elaborate, said Noyes. We wanted to be kind of spontaneous and just celebrate originality. It may not look terribly professional, but its going to be unique, and really fun and cute.
Parade participation has become something of a tradition for Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, who submitted a float for the seventh year in a row. This years design, themed We Love Our Country, featured a group of musicians playing country music atop a float covered with hay bales and picket fences.
Teenagers braved the heat and pushed shopping carts alongside the display, collecting canned goods for SPAN. The night before the parade, volunteers gathered in the church parking lot to decorate the float and prepare for the parade. For coordinator Hilda Gore, the parade is an annual chance to celebrate the community.
Oh my gosh we just love the Severna Park community, and we (Woods Church) have been here a really long time. Last year we celebrated our centennial. To me, the church is hand-in-hand with the community, Gore noted. She aptly summed up the sentiment of all the members of both her group and all others, We just have to be a part of this parade. Its such a great event for the Severna Park community. It really brings us all so much joy.