Bel Air Christmas Parade 2018 chairman thanks participants, announces winners

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Photo courtesy Town of Bel Air Facebook page

Bel Air Christmas Parade chairman Michael Blum sent along the following letter thanking participants and spectators and congratulating winners of the parade held Dec. 2. Here are the details provided:

To BEL AIR NEWS AND VIEWS:

On behalf of the Town of Bel Air, I would like to thank the citizens of greater Bel Air for their attendance and enthusiasm at the Sunday, December 2, 2018, Town of Bel Air Christmas Parade and Celebration. 

This year’s weather was misty and moist, but at least it didn’t rain, wasn’t windy, and wasn’t cold! I was excited to see one of the largest crowds ever in downtown Bel Air (even with a Ravens game winding up at the same time)!

My wife and I walked the route just behind the end of the parade and we were particularly pleased to see so many children enjoying the sights and sounds. The joy on the faces of the kids and families reflected the values of our community and the love we all have for this season.  We are lucky to live in such an area, and to have such citizens turn out. Bel Air is indeed a wonderful, family-friendly place, and it’s events like this that make that clearly apparent to all. 

The parade includes many different kinds of units, from marching bands to walking dogs, and this year’s parade included many very elaborate and creative floats. Overall, the Bel Air Christmas Parade is of, for and all about KIDS. Hundreds — THOUSANDS — of kids aged from toddlers through teenagers participated in it. To see their commitment, organization, dedication and wonderful good spirits made me, for one, very, very optimistic about the future of our community and of our nation. And I want to thank their parents and families for supporting these wonderful children!

Special thanks must go to the many hard-working volunteers who put the entire celebration together, especially including our parade marshals Annette Blum, Elise Gerard, Trish Heidenreich, Angela Robertson, Patti Sterling, Hope Yamagata and a very hard-working group of wonderful students from Bel Air High School, members of the National Honor Society under the supervision of Mrs. Kelly Blackburn. Several of these excellent young people were already experienced Christmas Parade Marshals, and their savoir-faire really helped. All these students showed their high intelligence and leadership abilities as they did a fantastic job coping with our VERY chaotic and stressful staging and parade deployment! It takes a lot of people to keep such a parade in order, and all these volunteers worked beautifully together. Every unit was deployed in the correct order, even with a few no-shows — thanks to these marshals!

The Parade Business Sponsor banners were carried by members of Cub Scout Pack 777, based at Bel Air United Methodist Church, organized by Hope Yamagata, who absolutely excelled at a very complex task. Thanks again, Hope! 

The celebration was supported by Town of Bel Air Commissioners Mayor Susan Burdette (Chairman), Patrick Richards, Brendan Hopkins, Philip Einhorn and Amy Chmielewski. Commissioners Burdette, Einhorn and Chmielewski, along with Town Manager L. Jesse Bane, led off the parade, in cars furnished by Jones Junction, following Chief of Police Charles Moore. I also must thank the Town of Bel Air Administration, led by Mr. Bane, for its support, and especially Bel Air Director of Economic Development Trish Heidenreich and her staff. Thanks also goes to Town of Bel Air Director of Public Works Stephen Kline and his hard-working crew, led on Sunday by Freddy Murillo and Ryan Ramer, who seemed to be anywhere anything was needed. Freddy Murillo especially was very much in charge and seemed to be “on top” of everything needed — long after the celebration was over, I saw Freddy working on getting one of the Town Lighting displays to work at the parking garage!

The 2018 Bel Air Christmas Parade was sponsored by PATIENT FIRST. Individual parade units were sponsored by local businesses including Buontempo Brothers Pizzeria/Tower Restaurant, Corbin Fuel Company, Cramer & Noorani Orthodontics, Harford Mutual Insurance Company, JET Seal Services, Jones Junction, Howard Bank, Klein’s ShopRite of Harford County, Music Land, Safe Harbors Travel, Sunny Day Cafe, Tar Heel Construction, and Zips Dry Cleaners. The bonfire was built and managed by Jay van Deusen with the help of Bel Air Public Works. Dina Boebel and Trish Heidenreich decorated the Reviewing Stand. Candy canes were given out Dina Boebel and her family of Elves. Country Britches Store on Main Street kindly allowed the parade to use its rooms for “costumed character” changing!

I also need to thank the hard-working members of the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, led by Executive Director Christine McPherson and Jennifer Falcone, who managed matters in Shamrock Park, where scads of folks enjoyed music, hot chocolate and cookies, and who were responsible for the sponsorship solicitation and budgeting of the entire event.

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 Charles Moore and Deputy Chief Richard Peschek.

At the parade reviewing stand, our parade judges were Judges Yolanda Curtin, Mimi Cooper and Susan Hazlett, assisted by Trish Heidenreich. Kristy Breslin from WJZ-TV did a wonderful job narrating the proceedings for the very first time — thanks, Kristy! The fabulous early entertainment was provided by the Route 66 Band.

Participants in the parade included in addition to the above (in alphabetical order): 20th CBRNE Command from Aberdeen Proving Ground, led by General Jim Bonner and Command Sergeant Major Kenneth Graham; Applause of Bel Air; The Baltimore Bernese Mountain Dogs Club; Benchfield Farms carrying Santa and Mrs. Santa; Karen Bowers, the Living Christmas Tree; Buontempo Brothers & Tower Restaurant; CASA of Harford County; Cub Scout Pack 313; Cub Scout Pack 807; Cub Scout Pack 808; Cub Scout Pack 830; Cub Scout Pack 865; Dance With Me School of Dance; Distinguished Young Woman of Bel Air Abigail Walsh; Emmorton Softball; Ferrous the Ironbird Mascot; Forest Hill Nursery School; Frosty the Snowman; Girl Scouts of Central MD Brownie Troop 2823; Girl Scouts of Central MD Daisy Troop 946; Girl Scouts of Central MD Daisy Troop 1840; Girl Scouts of Central MD Homestead Wakefield Cluster; Girl Scouts of Central MD Service Unit 620; Girl Scouts of Central MD Service Unit 678; Girl Scouts of Central MD Troop 146; Girl Scouts of Central MD Troop 250; Girl Scouts of Central MD Troop 250; Girl Scouts of Central MD Troop 340; Girl Scouts of Central MD Troop 759; Girl Scouts of Central MD Troop 985; Girl Scouts of Central MD Troop 1822 – Community 80; Girl Scouts of Central MD Troop 2236; Girl Scouts of Central MD Troop 2495, Girl Scouts of Central MD Troop 5953; Harford County 2019 Fire Prevention Ambassadors: Junior Miss Fire Prevention – Kaitlyn Schueler, 2019 Little Fire Chief – Ayden Morawski, 2019 Little Miss Fire Prevention – Kaitlyn Itzoe, 2019 Miss Fire Prevention – Annie McCullough; Harford County Humane Society; Harford County School Nutrition Association; Hoppin’ Hawks; J.E.T. Seal Services; Jester the Buffalo Wild Wings Mascot; Jordan Thomas Hair Salon; Klein’s ShopRite of Main Street; The Magic Continues Character Company; McGruff the Crime Dog with Bel Air Police Explorers; Marine Corps League Cpl. Pete Arnold Detachment 1198, Miss Bel Air 2018 Gabrielle Kerby; Miss Maryland 2018 Adrianna David; Miss Maryland’s Outstanding Teen 2018 Katie Allen; Mr. Christmas Tree; Patient First; Power Ranger; The Old Line Soccer Academy; Rage Against Addiction; Michael Rosman Acrobats, Stilt-walkers and Cyclists; The Society of Italian-American Businessmen; Supernova Dance Company; TwirlTasTix / Relevé Dance; U.S. Taekwondo Academy; Upper Crossroads Baptist Church and WHGM Smash Hits.

Special thanks also to our local high school bands from Aberdeen High School, Bel Air High School, C. Milton Wright High School, Edgewood High School, Fallston High School, Harford Technical High School, the John Carroll School, Joppatowne High School, North Harford High School and Patterson Mill High School. Having ten local bands was a record for this parade, I believe!

The judges determined the following awards for the parade: 1st Place: Aberdeen High School Marching Band; 2nd Place: Girl Scouts of Central MD Troop 1822 – Community 80; Third Place: The Old Line Soccer Academy; 1st Honorable Mention: Girl Scouts of Central MD Homestead Wakefield Cluster; 2nd Honorable Mention: the Society of Italian-American Businessmen.

At Shamrock Park, after the parade, Master of Ceremonies Jim McMahan led the crowd in Christmas Carols, accompanied by a wonderful performance by the Bel Air Community Band, led by Scott Sharnetzka. Carols were also sung by the “Just Having Fun Singers.” At 4:55 pm, there was the traditional “tree lighting,” created by the Town of Bel Air Public Works Department.

On a personal note, I want to thank the Town of Bel Air for having the heart and sensitivity to mount such a celebration. The Holiday Season (whether one celebrates Christmas or Hanukkah 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, birth and rebirth, and of the fellowship of humankind. As the days grow dark and cold, we illuminate and warm our community and our lives by the love we share through events like this. We look forward to the return of light, warmth and growth, both physical and spiritual, in the New Year, and we pray for peace for us, for our community, and for all humanity.

Yours most sincerely,

Michael Blum
Parade Chairman

Bel Air Christmas Celebration 2018