April 22, 2018
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Fourth Of July Parade Draws Spectators From Far And Wide

Zach Sparks
View Bio
July 6, 2017

Children waved American flags in the air as if signaling the start to a drag race while parents proudly looked on, clad in star-spangled garb, proving that the Severna Park Fourth of July Parade crowd was just as active as those marching along the route.

Among the steadfast onlookers were lifelong Severna Park residents and families visiting from as far as the West Coast.

Jim Norris has attended the parade with his wife, Kathy, since 1973. One year, he restored a 1971 Volkswagen and drove it in the 100-degee heat, so this year, he didn’t mind hanging back in the shade with good company.

“It’s my whole family – my grandchildren, my son, my neighbors,” said Jim Norris, a Severndale resident. “It’s community.”

Jim and Kathy’s neighbor, Jim Menendez, brought his two daughters, a tradition he doesn’t like to skip.

“A couple of years ago, I stood under a tree and got drenched,” he said, referring to 2015, when there was a downpour. “I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”

See more crowd photos in this gallery

Round Bay resident Bill Gardner scanned the street with his pal Mike Butler. Butler came from Atlanta to see his 25th Severna Park parade and “to see old friends.” Gardner, who has watched 20 parades, said “it’s also important to appreciate those who have served.”

In the crowd were a few people who have served in the military. John Bogdon, a 90-year-old veteran, was in the Navy and was aboard the USS Atherton when it sank the last German submarine in American waters during World War II. Along with his wife, Ellie Bogdon, John cheered on kids as they jogged down Evergreen Road. “We’ve been here since the parade started,” he proclaimed.

Allen Gamblin came all the way from Pennsylvania because he has relatives who live in Severna Park. Gamblin, who has watched the holiday affair for eight or nine years, was once stationed in Korea, when he served as an engineer in the Air Force.

“People need to find out that this country is worth something,” he said earnestly, reflecting on the importance of the event.

That sentiment wasn’t lost on Buck and Gwyn Linthicum, Harlequin residents who have attended the Fourth of July festivities since 1970. “I think it represents small-town America,” Bill Linthicum said.

“It’s just about being with family,” added Gwyn, who pointed to her two grandchildren, a son, a daughter and Henry the English cocker spaniel.

Sarah and Jimmy Brown of Shipley’s Choice came to the parade with their 7-year-old daughter, Raegan, and 5-year-old son, Mason, in tow. Also joining them were Sarah’s brother and sister-in-law.

“The kids love it,” Sarah proclaimed. “I just like supporting the community and seeing the kids.”

For the 10th time, Bob Stroud of Fairwinds on the Severn came out for the event with his mother, two sons and twin 7-year-old granddaughters.

“I love seeing all of the community floats,” Stroud said. “A lot of them have an environmental focus. … You can see all of the effort that they put into it.”

Although she now lives in Arnold, Heather Clark grew up in Severna Park and returned with her 1-year-old daughter, Josephine, and 3-year-old son, Wesley. “He likes the floats and fire trucks, the music and the people who pass things out,” Clark said of her son.

“It’s a really nice parade for a small town,” lamented Ben Oaks resident Marlene Hallett, who sat beside her husband, Lloyd.

Trekking from Seattle were 11-year-old Caroline Boardman; her brother, 14-year-old Matthew Boardman; and their cousin, 17-year-old Alexandra Pavao. Rocking star-shaped sunglasses, Caroline said, “They do have something like this [in Seattle], but it’s on a much smaller scale. They don’t celebrate Fourth of July there like they do here.”

Although he didn’t have far to travel to see the spectacle, lifelong Severna Park resident and historian Scott Jay was glad to be there. He singled out the cars as his favorite aspect of the parade.

“It gets bigger and bigger every year,” he said. “The Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce does a great job putting it together. My roots in Severna Park go pretty deep, so I can’t leave,” Jay joked. “But I love it.”

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