By Maya Pottiger
On July 5, the day after winning Best Overall for their Fourth of July Parade float, Dawn and DJ Gile started planning for the following year.
This is the third year that the Gile family is organizing the parade float for Olde Severna Park. They got involved after someone else was unable to do it.
“Coming to Severna Park, we heard there was [a parade] and it’s a big deal, and had heard about some of the past floats, and we [thought] it would be cool to do something big, like a boat,” DJ said.
Since taking over, the Gile family has earned Olde Severna Park the Best Overall in 2017 and Best Community in 2018, and their float for this year is top secret.
Dawn and DJ share responsibilities for the float. DJ does the physical construction, while Dawn orders materials, paints and decorates. DJ has a long history of working with his hands, dating back to his first job in a hardware store. Afterward, DJ was a repairs and utility sergeant in Korea on his first assignment with the Army, and now, as a homeowner, he does do-it-yourself projects around the house.
“When the opportunity came to build a float for the community, I was happy to be able to give back and demonstrate our appreciation for our great neighborhood, as well as contribute to the uniqueness of the Severna Park Fourth of July Parade,” DJ said.
The community meets at the beach on July 3 to decorate the float. Over the last few years, the Gile family has tweaked their parade day schedule to make sure everything runs smoothly. But the best part of the parade is when the float reaches Olde Severna Park.
“It’s like coming to your home court or your home turf. Everyone’s cheering and we see all these familiar faces from our neighborhood,” Dawn said. “It’s a really nice sense of community. Everyone goes nuts because they can cheer for the Olde Severna Park float.”
Outside of building the float, the Gile family is active in the Olde Severna Park community: DJ is the vice president of maintenance; they organize the spring and fall campouts where community members sleep in tents on the beach; and Dawn coordinates monthly ladies nights.
“We love our community,” Dawn said. “The reason it’s great is because there’s so many great volunteers who help make an amazing childhood for our kids. It’s such a nice lifestyle.”
Away from the community, Dawn is involved with a local PTA, serves as the president-elect of the Military Spouse JD Network and is the leader of DJ’s military unit’s family support network.
“One thing I try to impart on the kids is to be a good citizen, it’s more than just living your life,” DJ said. “Being in the military, I know it’s contributing to the greater good, but I also say let’s contribute on the smaller scale, too, and make our neighborhood better.”
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