Chairman of Bel Air Christmas celebration thanks community

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Michael I. Blum, chairman of Bel Air’s annual Christmas celebration sent along the following thank you to all who participated in the Dec. 4 festivities:

Christmas Parade 2011 (Photo courtesy of the Bel Air Downtown Alliance)

On behalf of the Town of Bel Air, I want to thank the greater Bel Air community for its wonderful attendance and support of the 32nd Bel Air Christmas Parade and Christmas Celebration held on Sunday, December 4, 2022. 

This year’s weather was — of course — just about perfect — well, it could have been a few degrees warmer … but I’ll take clear skies any day! But the sunny day certainly contributed to the good feelings held by all. The energy, joy, happiness and sheer bliss of the spectators of all ages was wonderful to see. The size of the crowd was tremendous — certainly one of the largest ever! We are lucky to have such wonderful citizens turn out— Bel Air is indeed a family-friendly place, and it is events like this that make that clearly apparent.

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 and units. Overall, the Bel Air Christmas Parade is all about KIDS. Hundreds of kids aged from toddlers through teenagers participated in it and many more watched 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, including hard-working volunteer National Honor Society member students from Bel Air High School under the leadership of Ms. Regina Burstein. Adult volunteers included Annette Blum, Aaron Cahall, Elise Gerard, Trish Heidenreich, Julia Potler, Angela Robertson, Lisa Williams, Hope Yamagata and Stephanie Zahn. Dina Boebel and Trish Heidenreich decorated the Reviewing Stand, which was provided courtesy of Harford County Parks & Recreation. 

Special thanks also go to the Town of Bel Air Commissioners Kevin M. Bianca, Chair and Mayor; Donna L. Kahoe, Vice-Chair; and Mary F. Chance, Paula S. Etting and Erin S. Hughes — without whose support this event could not occur! 

The Bel Air Christmas Celebration is a function of the Town of Bel Air Economic Development, Trish Heidenreich, Director; and of the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, Jenny Falcone, Executive Director.  Local business major sponsors included overall “Parade Sponsor” Jones Junction, plus Main Street Tower Restaurant, Zips Dry Cleaning, Safe Harbors Travel, Harford Mutual Insurance Company, BCV Commercial Realty, J.E.T. Seal Services, Tar Heel Construction, M&T Bank, Noorani Orthodontics, Corbin Fuel Company, Sunny Day Cafe, Music Land, Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland and Har-co Credit Union. Sponsor Banners were carried by members of Cub Scout Packs 777, 800 and 830, a great group of kids from all over the Bel Air area from 1st grade to 5th grade, expertly directed by Hope Yamagata. 

The event also relied on the Town of Bel Air Administration, led by Town Manager Eddie Hopkins, the Bel Air Police Department, led by Chief of Police Chuck Moore and Sgt. James Farrell, and the Bel Air Department of Public Works, led by Stephen Kline, Director, and his hard-working corps, especially including Frederico Murillo, who was in charge of all DPW efforts on December 4 and did a great job!

Special thanks also goes to our local high school bands in the parade, 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. 

The parade featured over 80 different units — probably that’s a recent record! Parade judges, who are anonymous, awarded BEST IN PARADE to the SUPERNOVA DANCE COMPANY, which did a great job the whole parade route. Second place was FOREST HILL NURSERY SCHOOL and its “Polar Express” Float, one of the most elaborate I’ve ever seen! Third place was Girl Scouts Service Unit #647, which had a huge contingent, half dressed as cookies, and the other half dressed as cups of cocoa! Honorable Mentions were White Marsh Ballet Academy, performing a very impressive marching version of The Nutcracker ballet; Mr. Christmas Tree Tommy Liberto, who blinked and shimmered all the way down the route on his bicycle; and the Aberdeen High School Marching Eagles band, under the direction of Kaitlyn Wittman, the most impressive of our high school bands for the 3rd parade in a row. Notable units also included the 20th CBRNE Unit from APG, with its color guard and the always-popular HELMET CAR!

Kristy Breslin of WJZ-TV was the Master of Ceremonies, excellently narrating the parade from the Reviewing Stand, and Town Mayor Kevin Bianca narrated the post-parade concert from the Shamrock Park Bandshell. At the bandshell, members of the Downtown Alliance served cookies to the crowd, while the Bel Air Community Band, under the direction of Richard Hauf, played popular Christmas music. A bonfire was tended by Joe Thompson with the help of Bel Air DPW workers, who contributed the pallets and stood by with the water truck! At 4:50 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, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, or any other holiday, is one of joy, and is the time to celebrate light, 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 and community of humankind. 

As the days grow dark and cold, we illuminate and warm 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 I. Blum

He/Him/His
Chairman, Bel Air Christmas Celebration