From local businesses and nonprofits to community associations and clubs, everyone goes all out for the annual Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce’s Fourth of July parade (well, July 5 this year). Whether the groups assemble their floats for months or simply days, a lot of work goes into the incredible floats that line the streets, and this year was no exception.
Park Books, which made its Fourth of July parade debut, displayed a “Charlotte’s Web” themed float, complete with a live pig.
Owner Melody Wukitch said she wanted to create a book-themed float that appealed to both adults and children. “Charlotte's Web” stood out for its nostalgia factor and the fact that the Wukitch family has a pet pig named Gilbert. Alongside Gilbert, who played Wilbur, was a large spider statue, representing the title character, Charlotte.
Other than figuring out the logistics of having a pig on the float, the most difficult part about the float-making process for the Park Books team was finding time. The Park Books float was built entirely by Wukitch and eight of her family members. They secured a trailer for the foundation and built a barn structure. Wukitch was excited for the community to see their hard work.
“It's very exciting because the community has really welcomed the bookstore and I think everyone will be very excited to see a 100-plus-pound pig in the parade,” Wukitch said prior to the event.
The Park Books float represented a love for reading, and Wukitch hopes that this float, along with the chamber’s “Celebrating Our CommUNITY” theme, will inspire people to get back to a sense of normalcy.
“We hope to inspire people to come into the store, not necessarily to buy books but just to re-engage with reading,” Wukitch said. “I think that we really want the community to get back to some of those things that we all used to do.”
Glenda Paxton from Orphan Grain Train (OGT) worked hard, alongside her husband and other OGT volunteers, to plan and perfect this year’s float. This year, Paxton aligned the float with the chamber’s theme, and the result was noticeable — OGT earned the distinction of Best Organization/Club for its entry.
“The two things that are iconic about OGT are the train symbolism and the warehouse that is over on East-West Boulevard,” Paxton said. “We have kind of combined those two things for our float this cheer and really play that for the theme ‘All Aboard.’”
The theme represented the nonprofit’s efforts within the community and abroad. The float featured a replica of both the OGT warehouse and the iconic train on a flatbed truck. Because the nonprofit has been participating in the parade since 2017, Paxton said the OGT team has the preparation process down to a science. Where in the past it has taken four months, the team of about eight volunteers spent only a couple months putting it together. They rebuilt banner holders and learned how to customize the material they have used in the past.
OGT is excited to be a part of the parade and to continue to support the community.
“I think it's exciting because it gives us an opportunity to showcase the good that OGT is doing here in the community and abroad,” Paxton said. “It just helps solidify that we're here helping the community and helping others.”
DJ Giles of the Olde Severna Park Improvement Association fulfilled a four-year-old dream of his by creating a tall ship on a trailer, donated by Environmental Landcare LLC, as the foundation of the float. The children dressed in Revolutionary War era clothing and red, white and blue themes.
“I thought it would be something cool to do with the naval history here,” Giles said.
Giles called on the community for donations and for materials to build the ambitious ship structure.
“Lumber costs have gone through the roof, so it kind of pushed us a lot more to the reduce and reuse mentality and simplify the design a little bit,” Giles said.
A group of three neighbors and Giles spent two days building the structure, which was the most difficult part, and neighborhood children decorated the float the weekend before the parade.
Giles said that it is all worth it when the parade makes its way to Evergreen Road, through the Olde Severna Park community.
“The kids just love it, and they are beaming because they're seeing their neighbors cheering them on,” Giles said. “Building it is fun, but I think making the turn down Evergreen Road into our neighborhood and seeing them cheering us on is the most fun part of the parade.”
At Homestead Gardens, Fourth of July parade planning begins when the previous year’s parade ends. This year, planning began almost a year ago, but the theme wasn’t decided until about two months ago.
“This year the theme is ‘Refresh your Nest,’ and it is just like something we get excited about because it's different,” said Homestead Gardens general manager Heidi Tyler. “It's a very on-trend theme. Surrounding yourself with green and then those trends that have come full-swing back, like macro hangers, all the textiles and woven rugs.”
In the past, Tyler designed the float on her own. This year, she recruited Stephanie Stowell and Christy Lyon to assist her in bringing the vision to life. They worked tirelessly over the past few weeks to secure the plants and products needed for the float. With green being the highlight, securing the plants and flowers from the growers was the most important part.
“The most difficult part was figuring out what was going to be the structure that would hold the weight of what we wanted to hang,” Tyler said. “We have these awesome moss balls with monstera plants coming off of it and they have some weight to them.”
Mike Dudderar and Larry Hoffman from the Davidsonville location worked on the structure.
After a year off, the team at Homestead Gardens was eager to get creative with the float. Tyler said it is one of her favorite events of the year.
“We look forward to it every year,” Tyler said. “Seeing the neighborhood's reaction and seeing everybody's sense of community. I know everybody's been waiting for it with it not happening last year, so we feel the same way. It's something we need.”