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  • Olde Severna Park's Navy ship won the community the distinction of Best Overall from the parade's panel of judges.
    Olde Severna Park's Navy ship won the community the distinction of Best Overall from the parade's panel of judges.

Fabulous ‘50s Parade Pays Tribute To Severna Park’s Heritage

Dylan Roche
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July 6, 2017

When Earl Schaffer, longtime volunteer emcee of the Severna Park Fourth of July Parade, approached a group of youngsters waiting along the edge of Riggs Avenue as they waited for the celebratory procession to arrive, he asked them, “What do you hope to see in the parade this year?”

One small voice in the crowd shouted, “Cool stuff!”

Well, it might have been a vague description, but anyone who was hoping to see cool stuff wouldn’t have been disappointed. The 42nd annual Fourth of July Parade featured more than 100 entries, encompassing floats and walking units from clubs, neighborhoods, businesses, athletic teams, politicians and much more.

This year’s installment of the signature event, which is put on annually by the Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce, incorporated all the colorful costumes and creative decorations that regular spectators have come to expect from the event. In keeping with the theme, “The Fabulous ‘50s” — a nod to 1957 in honor of the chamber’s 60th anniversary — the parade paid homage not only to America’s heritage but to Severna Park’s as well.

“It’s a community tradition,” said Beth Horn, who brought her 7-year-old daughter, Eliya, to watch the parade. “I think it’s a great way for the kids to connect with the holiday and the history, and to get a sense of community. It’s also a great way to get involved. I’d love to see Eliya be in the parade at some point, walking in it or decorating a float.”

The parade was preceded by grand marshal Betty Winkelmeyer Wells, whose father, Walter Winkelmeyer, founded the Severna Park Chamber. Small in stature but big in personality, Wells sat on the back of a 1957 Chevy convertible and waved to the crowd as she rode past.

Highlights of the procession included community entries from Olde Severna Park, which created a Navy ship on the back of a truck bed, and Round Bay, which paid tribute to the ‘50s with kids wearing retro-looking bathing suits and riding old-fashioned beach cruisers. St. Andrew’s Swim Club of Chartwell wished the chamber a happy 60th birthday by using its float as a mobile birthday celebration.

Many entries got creative in the way they depicted the ‘50s theme. Orphan Grain Train, a Millersville-based nonprofit, mimicked a 1950s soda shop on the back of its float, and its volunteers showed up ready to sock-hop.

Then there were the entries that appealed to the sentimental side of patriotism. The Nathaniel H. McDavitt Memorial, honoring a 2011 SPHS grad killed in the Middle East as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, brought many people in the crowd to their feet and elicited extended applause as a multigenerational team of people carried a 30-by-60-foot flag, the largest to ever appear in the parade. Truckin’ 4 Troops was another crowd-pleaser that awoke a sense of patriotism in people with its line of trucks and group of supporters.

Participating in the parade was a real treat for both the young and the young at heart. The winsome demonstration by the Green Hornets Cheerleaders appealed to the parade’s judges, as did the impressive round-up of classic cars, whose drivers were proof that it’s nearly impossible to outgrow a sense of wonder for a shiny set of old-school wheels. For an indeterminate number of years, Wayne Gerst of Gerst Towing has organized the fleet of classic car owners from throughout the community, but every year he manages to find new entries.

Laura Bowcutt explained that her husband, Corey Bowcutt, recently became the proud owner of a lime green 1968 Shelby GT350, and he couldn’t wait to drive it in the parade. “It’s been his dream car since he was a kid,” she said.

And what would the chamber’s signature event have been without business entries? Homestead Gardens put on a colorful display with countless flowers and lawn decorations, while Chick-fil-A brought multiple costumed cows along the ride. Meki’s Tamure Polynesian Dance Group brought the South Pacific to Severna Park with a cultural celebration of movement and music.

When the last truck brought up the rear and the parade came to a close, the crowd dispersed to various other activities. For Liz Ellis and Lori Holmbeck, roommates who came to watch the parade because “it’s fun” and “it’s good to be with the community,” those other activities meant heading into Annapolis for more festivities and — later in the evening — fireworks. For others throughout the community, it might have meant barbecues, pool parties, or long naps in the air conditioning.

Although the chamber of commerce might be 60 years old, and the Fourth of July Parade might be 42, neither the organization nor its most popular tradition seem to be slowing down at all. “This one was right up there with all the others,” Schaffer said. “We had lots of local entries — businesses, communities. It was quintessential Severna Park.”

See more photos from the Fourth of July Parade here.


And The Winners Are…
This year’s parade featured many impressive floats and walking units. The judges carefully considered each one and were excited to announce the winners. Congratulations, and thank you to all community members who participated.

Best Overall: Olde Severna Park

Best Theme: Orphan Grain Train

Most Patriotic: Nathaniel H. McDavitt Memorial


Best Commercial Entry:

1. Homestead Gardens

2. Chick-fil-A

3. Meki’s Tamure Polynesian Dance Group


Best Community Entry:

1. Olde Severna Park

2. St. Andrew’s Swim Club

3. Round Bay


Best Organization/Club:

1. Gerst Car Club

2. Truckin’ 4 Troops

3. Green Hornets Cheerleaders

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