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Bel Air’s annual full slate of Fourth of July activities is just around the corner, an Independence Day observance that features the usual big parade as well as a full slate of contests and activities leading up to it.

And, as usual, there will be fireworks at dusk.

The main change from last year will be that the blueberry pancake and sausage breakfast, running from 7 to 11 a.m. will be at Bel Air Middle School, because of the Bel Air High School construction project.

“We are just returning to our roots there. We used to do it there years ago,” Don Stewart, president of the Independence Celebration committee, said.

He explained that the event moved from the middle to the high school about eight years ago, during construction at the middle school. As the breakfast grew to include about 2,000 attendees, having it in the larger space of the high school made sense, he said.

About 80 people, notably members of the Bel Air Lions Club and their spouses, help serve the breakfast. A Boy Scout troop also supports the event.

Because the access roads and parking areas at the old high school are obscured because of construction, the committee will be putting up signs along Kenmore Avenue and South Main Street advising people to use Idlewild or MacPhail roads to get to the middle school, parade chairman Michael Blum said.

The parade route will also be different from last year’s.

It will start at North Main and Gordon streets and proceed south on Main Street, make a right on Route 1 to Kenmore Avenue, and continue on South Main Street to end at the intersection with Idlewild Street.

“We have moved around a lot over the years,” Stewart said, noting that the route went down Main Street until several years ago and also at one point went down Route 24.

The theme for this year’s parade is “American Patriots — Then and Now!” About 150 units will be participating.

For the first time, details for parade participants are available online, at www.belairjuly4.org.

Other events during the day will include horseshoe pitching, a hamster race, tours of the Hays House, a turtle derby, a frog-jumping contest, a watermelon-eating contest and trophies for decorated bikes and rodeo.

Many of the events have grown in popularity over the years and regularly fill up with kids eager to participate, Stewart said.

The day will end with a fireworks display at about 9:30 p.m., launched near the intersection of Route 22 and Lee Way. No parking will be allowed on Route 22 during the display.

This year’s primary parade and fireworks sponsor will be the Bel Air-based Harford Mutual Insurance Company.

“We just want to have everybody have a good time and feel like they are enjoying themselves,” Stewart said about the day. “The looks on the kids’ faces, seeing how much fun they’re having, just tells you why we are out there. To a lot of people, this event is important, and we are just carrying the banner, trying to keep it going.”


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