Bel Air Christmas parade chairman thanks those involved in Sunday’s celebration

Photo courtesy Bel Air Downtown Alliance's Facebook page

The Chairman of Sunday’s Bel Air Christmas Parade Michael Blum sent along the following letter to thank those involved:

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Town of Bel Air and the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, I would like to thank the citizens of greater Bel Air for their attendance and enthusiasm at yesterday’s (Sunday, December 2) Bel Air Main Street Christmas Parade and Shamrock Park Celebration.

The weather was a bit chilly and we never did get the sun that earlier had been predicted, but that didn’t matter because the very large and enthusiastic crowds gave true warmth and sunny happiness to the proceedings!

I walked the route just behind the end of the parade and was particularly pleased to see so many children (and even pets!) enjoying the sights and sounds. The joy on the faces of the kids and families made me very, very happy, and I think reflected the values of our community and the love we all have for this season. Bel Air is indeed a wonderful, family-friendly place, and it’s events like this that make that clearly apparent to all.

Special thanks must go to the many hard-working volunteers who put the entire celebration together, especially including Jennifer Mainster-Hanna, without whose hard work the parade could not have been anywhere near as good! Other volunteer marshals included Annette Blum, Dina Boebel, Aaron Cahall, Alex Krowzow, Patti Pearce, David Williams, Angela Robertson, and a very hard-working group of wonderful students from Bel Air High School, members of the Student Government and the Honor Society, who at the last minute were gathered by Matthew Robertson, who showed real leadership in this matter. A few parents also came and helped! These extra marshals included Matthew and his brother Bryce Robertson, Natalie Phillips, Dylan Donley, Ben Barsam and his father Chris, Caroline Lozzi, Connor Small, Meghan Thompson, Bekka Mangioni, Shannon Williams, Theresa Waybright and her mother Elaine, Jamie Klunk, Tess Sobka and Breanna Todd.

It takes a lot of people to keep such a parade in order, and all these volunteers worked beautifully together.

The sponsor banners were carried by members of Cub Scout Pack 777, based at Bel Air United Methodist Church. Dina Boebel and Trish Heidenreich decorated the Reviewing Stand.

I also need to thank the hard-working members of the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, led by Executive Director Scott Walker and Angela DeBrigida, who managed and prepared matters in Shamrock Park, where scads of folks enjoyed music, hot chocolate and cookies!

I also thank the Town of Bel Air administration, especially Director of Economic Development Trish Heidenreich, Angela Robertson and Director of Public Relations Jim Welch. Thanks also to Town Administrator Chris Schlehr, Director of Administration Joyce Oliver, Administrative Assistant Laura Stafford, and Director of Public Works Randy Robertson and his hard-working crew, led by Mike Cornett.

The celebration of course was supported by Town of Bel Air Commissioners Edward Hopkins, Robert Reier, Robert Preston, David Carey and Susan Burdette, who marched in the parade (some with their dogs!) and gave out candy canes!

The entire celebration could not have been done without the unflinching support and assistance of the Town of Bel Air Police Department, and especially Police Chief Leo Matrangola and Deputy Chief Rick Peschek.

Judges Angela Eaves, Beth Bowen, Susan Hazlett and Mimi Cooper, assisted by Trish Heidenreich, presided at the Reviewing Stand, where Teri Kranefeld did a wonderful job — as usual — narrating the proceedings. The fabulous early entertainment was provided by the Patrick Redmond Band, whose spirited and upbeat music really made Main Street into a “Winter Carnival”!

Participants in the Parade included (in alphabetical order): America in Miniature, an APG Unit featuring Major General Robert Ferrell and a Motorized Army Helmet, Applause of Bel Air, the Bel Air High School Marching Band, the Bel Air Terps Cheerleading and Football players, the Bel Air Town Commissioners, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford Counties Bel Air Branch, Boy Scouts Troop 777, Buontempo Brothers/Tower Restaurant, Brownie Scout Troops 2017 and 333, C. Milton Wright High School Marching Band, Candy Cane Elves, Chief Leo Matrangola accompanied by Jennifer Cook, the Edgewood High School Marching Band, the Fallston High School Marching Band, Ferrous & Ripcord the IronBird Mascots, Frosty the Snowman, Girl Scouts of America Community 80, Girl Scout Troops 208 and 1118, Girl Scout Troops 673 and 678, Girl Scout Troop 1842, Girl Scout Troop 3120, the Grinch, the Harford County Detachment of the Marine Corps League/Toys for Tots Train, the Harford County Fire Prevention Goodwill Ambassadors Little Fire Chief Drew Cosenza, Little Miss Fire Prevention Paige Hauhn, Junior Miss Fire Prevention Jessica Holden and Miss Fire Prevention Sabrina Wainwright, the Hoppin’ Hawks Jump Rope Club, the Humane Society of Harford County, the John Carroll School Marching Band, the Joppatowne High School Marching Band, the Kinetic Youth Performance Team, the Living Christmas Tree, McGruff the Crime Dog with Brownie Scout Troop 5960, the Mill of Bel Air, Miss Maryland 2012 Joanna Guy, Ms. Petite United America Patti Altobelli Barbato, Mrs. Bel Air Maryland America (Mrs. Maryland America) Katie Kinslow, Mrs. Maryland America 2013 Heather Ziehl, the Patterson Mill High School Marching Band, the RAVENSmobile, the Relacoustics Band, the Ryan-Kilcoyne School of Irish Dancing, the Shining Eye Farm Percheron pulling Mrs. and Mrs. Santa and their family’s sleigh, the Silver Eagle Cloggers, the Michael Rosman Animated Christmas Tree, the Step 2 It Dance Academy, the TwirlTasTix, and the Viper All-Star Cheer and Dance Team.

The judges determined the following awards for the procession: FIRST PLACE — BEST IN PARADE: the Humane Society of Harford County; SECOND PLACE — Girl Scout Troops 673 & 678; THIRD PLACE — The Mill of Bel Air; HONORABLE MENTIONS: Edgewood High School Marching Band and the Ryan-Kilcoyne School of Irish Dancing.

At Shamrock Park, after the parade, Jay van Deusen built and maintained the nice warm bonfire; Jim McMahan was the perfect Master of Ceremonies, leading the crowd in Christmas Carols, accompanied by a wonderful performance by the Bel Air Community Band, led by Scott Sharnetzka, and by the Bel Air Community Chorus. Free hot chocolate and cookies were given to everyone (until we ran out!), courtesy of Coffee Coffee, Klein’s ShopRite, Tiny Toes and Wells Fargo Advisors.

The celebration could not have been produced without the financial support of many local businesses. Band Sponsors were Brown, Brown & Young PA, Buontempo Brothers/Tower Restaurant, Coffee Coffee, Corbin Fuel, Harford Mutual Insurance Company, Jones Junction Auto Dealerships, Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland and Tiny Toes.

Other business sponsors included Animal Medical Center, April Stites Photography, Cat Sense Feline Hospital, Chesapeake Business Solutions, Circa, Ltd., First Act Accounting, Hair Design, Jeffrey Horowitz MD, Katzen Eye Group, Law Office of Anthony J. DiPaula, M&T Bank, MaGerk’s Pub & Grill, NVS Salon & Spa, Rick Gerety and Associates Inc., Ryan-Kilcoyne School of Irish Dance, Saxon’s Diamond Centers, Self-Storage Plus of Bel Air, Sheriff Jesse Bane and Sylvan Learning of Bel Air.

Flowers by Design on Main Street kindly allowed the parade to use its rooms for “costumed character” changing! Thanks, Patti!

On a personal note, I want to thank the Town of Bel Air and the Bel Air Downtown Alliance for having the heart and sensitivity to mount such a celebration, now in its third decade.

The Holiday Season (whether one celebrates Christmas or Chanukah or Kwanzaa, or any other holiday) is one of joy, and is the time to celebrate life and family, and to give to charity and to the community. It is the season of hope and rebirth, and of the fellowship of humankind. As the days grow dark and cold, we illuminate and warm our community and our lives with events like this, so we look forward to the return of light, warmth and growth, both physical and spiritual.

Long may the Bel Air Christmas Parade and Celebration flourish!

Yours most sincerely,

Michael Blum
Bel Air Christmas Celebration 2012