Severna Park Heats Up With Pride And Patriotism At Annual Parade
By Hayley Gable Bowerman
Despite the sweltering temperature and relentless sun, the communitys pride and patriotism were vivacious as ever at this years Severna Park Fourth of July parade. With a celebrate freedom theme and an exciting lineup of 83 unique float units from local businesses, schools, organizations, civic groups and neighborhood associations, there was a little something for everyone this year.
Well before the parades 10:00am step-off from St. Martins in-the-Field, crowds of people planted themselves on chairs and picnic blankets beside the parades route along Benfield Boulevard, Evergreen Road, Riggs Avenue and Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard.
Leading the parade this year was the Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company, which featured their shiny red fleet of apparatus. Among their highlighted vehicles was an impressive, fully restored antique fire truck from Riviera Beach Volunteer Fire Companys convoy of vehicles.
Directly behind Earleigh Heights was the Marine Corps League Detachment 1049 Color Guard. The group progressed in a 1950 special-edition Marine Corps Jeep and a 1951 Jeep, which held active duty members of the Marine Color Guard.
The military group, which remains highly active in various charity efforts throughout the year, showcased their Toys For Tots hot rod vehicle. The group was awarded Best Theme for their unit by parade judges Lonnie Lancione, Stacey Cassidy, Scott Gardiner, Jean Marie-Carroll and Larry Sells.
Next up were the parades platinum sponsors, Dynasplint Systems Inc. and BankAnnapolis. Dynasplint Systems Inc., a locally owned business by Linstead resident George Hepburn, hosted a walking unit, while BankAnnapoliss unit included patriotic tunes and the famous BankAnnapolis lion mascot.
We're deeply grateful for these two sponsors, said Linda Zahn, CEO of the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce.
As one of the parades highlighted features, the grand marshals were next in line. This year, the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce, which organized the parade, chose to honor local servicemen who were injured during deployment, including Ryan Kules of Severna Park and David Weiner of Odenton.
As Kules and Weiner drove by in their designated convertibles, the crowd rose to their feet, applauding them and waving their flags enthusiastically. Kules, who lost his arm and leg to an improvised explosive device in Taji, Iraq, on November 29, 2005, drove by first, waving and smiling to the crowd.
Immediately behind Kules was Weiner, who was injured from falling out of a helicopter and into an enemy fire zone while on duty in Iraq in 2004.
After the grand marshals, the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce came into view. With their recent launch of the Shop Local campaign, the chamber directed their units focus toward the new program. Several GSPCC members were hoisted on a truck owned by chamber member Steve McNey.
Members of Severna Park-based Ravens Nest #10 - a non-profit Ravens fan club with over 38 chapters in Maryland got the crowd pumped up for football season with their purple and black camouflage suits and hair wigs. There was also an exciting appearance by Poe, the Ravens official mascot.
Ravens Nest #10 works within the community year-round and raises over $10,000 annually for distribution among local charities. Ravens Nest #10 has the dedicated support of some of the most notable and recognizable group of elite Ravens Super Fans who have been selected for induction into the Professional Football Ultimate Fan Association.
As perhaps the most popular float unit each year, the Severn River Lions Club was up next, toting their lion mascot along in a red mustang convertible. Since 1956 the Severn River Lions club has proudly served the community.
The Lions Clubs major focus over the years has been conserving programs such as the Camp Blaze Children's Fair, nursery schools, Ritchie Highway cleanup, scholarships at Severna Park and Broadneck high schools and Boy Scout groups, to name a few.
For the younger parade participants, the chamber of commerce again offered the childrens decorated bike contest. Youngsters congregated on Holly Avenue prior to the start of the parade and entered their bikes, tricycles and wagons into a competition for most original, most beautiful and most patriotic.
Accompanied by their parents, the children were able to ride their bikes from Holly Avenue down the hill onto Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard, all the while showing off their bicycle creativity. One bike, which ended up winning most original, was even crafted to resemble a Navy Blue Angels airplane.
Following the fleet of the childrens decorated bicycles, the SPCA of Anne Arundel County walked along with several homeless dogs that are currently up for adoption. Their float also featured the SPCAs Waggin Tails mobile unit.
Welcoming veterans from all branches of the armed forces, the American Legion Post 175 presented a patriotic unit of flag bearers and corvettes of all colors, including red, white and blue, of course. Their legion currently consists of 1,200 members.
This years parade also featured an entire homemade battleship, straight from the Hollywood On The Severn community. The U.S.S. Hollywood, which was ornamented with American flags, was a complete crowd pleaser as it made its way along the route. Hollywood On The Severn ended up winning third-place in the Best Community category.
Following the U.S.S. Hollywood was the Severna Park High School marching band, which kept the crowd happy and upbeat by performing an array of patriotic tunes.
As always, the Kinder Farm 4H Club brought along a menagerie of their furry friends, including goats and sheep sporting patriotic bandanas. The 4H entry also highlighted Kinder Farms current fleet of John Deere tractors. Following the parade, the animals all made their way to Cypress Creek Park where they were displayed as part of the petting zoo.
Those parade-goers hoping to catch a glimpse of some beautiful all-American cars surely were not disappointed. Wayne Gersts famous fleet of American-made cars featured something for everyone and every taste, including a 1969 Chevy Camaro, 1941 Ford Roadster, 1972 Chevy Malibu, 1930 Ford Model A Pickup, 1972 Olds Cutlass, 1970 Dodge Charger, 1972 Chevy Nova, a 1965 Pontiac GTO, and several spectacular classic Corvettes from the 60s.
The cars were on display at Cypress Creek Park following the parade and were judged in a variety of categories.
Pets Are People Too was the theme for Severna Park Veterinary Hospitals float this year. With Dr. Jessica Heard leading the pack of Veterinary Hospital friends, family and employees, the unit included dozens of stuffed animals aboard a patriotic sailboat.
Next up was Our Shepherd Lutheran church, which ended up placing third in the Best Club/Non-Profit category. Church members graciously handed out ice-cold, refreshing bottles of water to folks along the parade route.
The next, much-anticipated entry arguably the parades most popular year in and year out was the bike brigade, organized by Pedal Pushers owner Rod Reddish atop his classic, big-wheeled bicycle. This years bike brigade was a highlight, as local kids of all ages rode their bikes decorated to the nines for the occasion.
As always, the brigade also featured some of the more unusual bikes around including double-frame bikes that put their rider towering above the street and a lineup of unicyclists, who always impress with their skills atop one wheel.
While mosquitos were not a problem in the morning hours of the parade, there was one giant mosquito to be found in the Mosquito Squad of Annapoliss float. Only, this mosquito was made out of paper mâché.
God Bless America was the designated tune aboard the Mason Dixon Square Dancers float. Members dressed in pioneer attire square danced their hearts out, despite the unyielding heat.
Winning the hearts of anyone and everyone involved in our local waterways was the Magothy River Associations float, which was decorated with greenery of all kinds plants, flowers, leaves and shrubbery to promote the health of our local environment. The group took home second-place in the Best Club/Non-Profit category.
Of course, the parade wouldnt be complete without all the local politicians. A caravan of politicians, including Delegate Cathy Vitale, Delegate Tony McConkey and Councilman Dick Ladd, all made their way through the parade route, waving to folks, shaking hands and greeting people.
No one at this years parade was kept cooler than the dogs aboard Mutt & Joes float, as the dogs were literally washed atop the truck with water, soap and bubbles. The business took second-place for Best Commercial.
As they each made their way past the judging booth, Homestead Gardens, the Green Hornets Cheerleaders, Sunrise Assisted Living and Bay Area Appraisers all showed off their patriotic spirit with float décor, musical chants and colorful attire.
The community of Round Bay, which brought together many of the campers from Round Bays Beach Camp, put together a float impressive enough to score second-place in the Best Community category. Children from the neighborhood put together a banner which displayed the handprints of each community camper.
The Jing Ying Institute of Kung Fu & Tai Chi was up next and featured a great demonstration that resembled one straight out of a national parade. Kicking and chopping along with their famous lion dance, the group performed demonstrations throughout the parade and at the post-parade festival.
The Linstead On The Severn community put together an inspiring procession of decorated golf carts and sparkly wagons with a theme of Happy Birthday America. They were awarded first-place for Best Community.
Gene Lilly Pools And Spas quite possibly had the coolest unit in the entire parade with their featuring of a Jacuzzi tub atop their float. Their theme was work hard, play hard, and they ended up taking home third-place in the Best Commercial category.
Best Overall float was awarded to the Severna Park Elks Club, which celebrated the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 by creating a wonderful portrayal of Fort McHenry, Frances Scott Key and the National Anthem.
The Maryland Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Color Guard was presented with first-place honors in the Best Club/Non Profit category for their Revolutionary War theme. Canons, treasure chests and other war memorabilia were displayed and carried along with the unit while members played bagpipes along to patriotic tunes.
Last but certainly not least was one of the events most impressive, crowd-pleasing units Kick Connection, which brought with it a Broadway-like production starring its very own students as superheroes and ninjas. Kick Connections float was named first-place in the Best Commercial category.
After the parade, a festival was held at Cypress Creek Park. The celebration included great food, fun activities and a petting zoo. As in past years, the festival served as a fundraising opportunity for local nonprofit organizations.
Despite the uncomfortable heat and recent power outages, nearly all of the thousands of attendees stuck around until the very last float a clear sign that the pride and patriotism of this Severna Park community certainly outweighs the brutalities of Mother Nature.
Happy Independence Day Severna Park!