On behalf of the Town of Bel Air, I want to thank the greater Bel Air community for its amazing support of the 33rd Bel Air Christmas Parade and Celebration, held on Sunday, Dec. 3.
On a dreary, wet Sunday morning, we relied on the forecast that things would dry up by early afternoon. We made the right call and held the event. The rain did stop, and the streets did dry up, and we pulled off an absolutely marvelous parade and celebration.
What was really heartwarming to see was the tremendous size of the crowds that lined the streets of the parade route. The happiness of the spectators of all ages was manifestly apparent. We are lucky to have such citizens turn out; Bel Air is indeed a family-friendly place, and it is events like this that show it. Even though we are every day assaulted by sadness and bad news, not only on a global and national level but also sometimes right here at home, it is events like this that right the ship and let us understand how much good is out there.
I must first and foremost thank Bel Air Police Chief Charles Moore and his hard-working staff, led by Sgt. James Farrell, for their help all day. Our local police were able to handle the demands of a huge public event, occurring on the same day as a very serious police matter elsewhere in town. This proves how professional, reliable and dependable our Bel Air Police Department truly is.
Overall, the Bel Air Christmas Parade is all about kids. Hundreds – maybe thousands – participated and many more watched. To see the dedication and good spirits of so many children and their families made me, for one, very, very optimistic about the future of our community and of our nation. 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 14 National Honor Society member students from Bel Air High School under the leadership of Regina Burstein. Adult volunteers included Annette Blum, Catherine Butrim, Aaron Cahall, Elise Gerard, Matt McDonald, Julia Potler, Angela Robertson, Lisa Williams and Stephanie Zahn. Dina Boebel and Angela Robertson decorated the reviewing stand, which was provided courtesy of Harford County Parks & Recreation.
Special thanks also go to the Town of Bel Air Board of Commissioners: Paula S. Etting, chair and mayor; Steven Chizmar, vice-chair; and Commissioners Mary F. Chance, James Rutledge and Jake Taylor. Without their support, this event could not occur.
The Bel Air Christmas Celebration is also brought to you by Town of Bel Air Economic Development, Angela Robertson, director; the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, Jenny Erhard, executive director; and several local business sponsors. Sponsor banners were carried in the parade by members of Cub Scout Pack 830/777, a troop chartered by the American Legion Post 39 on Hickory Avenue; and by members of Boy Scouts of America Troop 808, an all-girls BSA troop from 7-9 grades at Bel Air Middle, Fallston Middle, Southampton Middle and Fallston High schools. All great kids, all expertly directed by Lisa Williams.
The event also relied on the Town of Bel Air Administration, led by Town Manager Ed Hopkins; and the Bel Air Department of Public Works, led by Stephen Kline, director, and his hard-working corps, especially Frederico Murillo, who was in charge of all DPW efforts on Dec. 3 and did a great job. Thanks, Freddie!
Special thanks also goes to our local high school bands in the parade: 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. Parade judges, who are anonymous, named as Overall Best In Parade Cub Scout Pack 313’s “The Family Fun Machine.” Other winners were S.I.A.B. for Best Float; Michael Rosman’s Holiday Circus Camp Stars for Best Comic Unit; Girl Scouts Service Unit 674 for Best Marching Unit; Harford County Vintage Volkswagen Club for Best Mobile Unit; Harford County 4-H for Best Equestrian Unit; and the Edgewood High School Marching Ram Band for Best Band. Notable units also included the 20th CBRNE Unit color guard from Aberdeen Proving Ground, the Aberdeen High School Eagles Marching Band, the U.S. Taekwando Academy and Harford United Soccer. Great job, all!
At the Shamrock Park band shell afterwards, 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 Jay Van Deusen with the help of Bel Air public works personnel, who contributed the pallets and stood by with the water truck. At 4:45 pm, there was the traditional tree-lighting ceremony, 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. There is bad news everywhere — internationally, nationally, locally. For one day, though, we can rejoice in good news. The Bel Air 2023 Christmas Parade was good, and we should all celebrate that. We look forward to the return of light, warmth and positive growth, both physical and spiritual, in the New Year, and we pray for peace for us, for our community and for all humanity.
Michael I. Blum
Chairman, Bel Air Christmas Celebration