Harford County residents and visitors will have two days to celebrate our nation's 240th birthday over the Independence Day holiday weekend that for many begins Friday.
Traditional parades are planned Sunday in Joppatowne and Havre de Grace, the latter followed by fireworks, and Monday in Kingsville and Bel Air, with Bel Air's parade followed by fireworks.
Bel Air's Independence Day Committee also has a number of community events on tap for Monday morning, some new this year to replace old favorites that have gone away. All in all, it's going to be a festive occasion.
The weather should cooperate for most of the weekend; however, there is a chance for thundershowers on Monday evening, according to the National Weather Service forecast as of Thursday afternoon.
Saturday is expected to be sunny with a high of 81 degrees, Sunday mostly sunny with a high of 82 and Monday partly sunny with a high of 82 and a 30 percent chance of precipitation.
"Honoring Our Home Town Heroes" is the theme for Bel Air's celebration, which begins at 6:45 a.m. Monday with the flag-raising at Bel Air High School, following by the pancake and sausage breakfast in the school cafeteria.
The celebration honors police, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel and members of the military. It also remembers the two Harford County Sheriff's Office deputies shot to death in the line of duty earlier this year, Senior Deputy Patrick Dailey and Deputy First Class Mark Logsdon.
Carriane Cicero, of Street, is Miss Bel Air Independence Day 2016 and will appear at many of the day's events and will ride in the parade.
This year's Independence Day program cover was designed by 11-year-old Katherine Parker, of Bel Air, who just completed fifth grade at Homestead-Wakefield Elementary. Hers was picked from among hundreds of entries submitted by local students. Olivia Rissling, 11, also of Homestead-Wakefield Elementary, was first runner-up.
This year, the pancake breakfast, which goes from 7 to 11 a.m., is being run by the Bel Air High School Boosters, which replaces the Bel Air Lions Club, the event's longtime sponsor and operator. The breakfast is $7 for adults and $4 for children under 10.
Other changes in Bel Air morning events are the elimination of the frog jumping contest and turtle derby. Traditionally held at Shamrock Park, they will be replaced by a water balloon toss contest starting at 9 a.m. in the park and a patriotic costume contest starting at 10 a.m.
Returning events include horseshoe pitching at 8:30 a.m. at Rockfield Park; patriotic music and tours at Hays House starting at 9 a.m.; face painting from 9 a.m. to noon at Shamrock Park; Uncle Sam Says at 11 a.m. at Shamrock and a watermelon-eating contest at 11:30 a.m at Shamrock.
The popular annual bicycle rodeo is at 11 a.m. at the Bel Air Elementary School parking lot.
Bel Air's parade along Main Street begins at 6 p.m. and is sponsored by BGE. Like last year, the parade will march north from South Main and Idlewild street to the "flatiron" at North Main and Gordon streets.
Bel Air's fireworks will start at approximately 9:30 at Rockfield Park, sponsored by Harford Mutual Insurance Company. Rain date for the fireworks is Tuesday, July 5, at 9:30 p.m. For more information, visit BelAirJuly4.org.
Other area celebrations include:
The Edgewood/Joppatowne Independence Day Parade will take place in Joppatowne this year, set to march down Joppa Farm Road starting at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 3. The parade will run from Shore Drive to Hinton Road and will be followed by a free concert at Mariner Point Park at 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.edgewoodjoppatonweparade.org.
Havre de Grace Independence Day festivities will be on Sunday, July 3, with the parade down Union Avenue starting at 2 p.m. After the parade, Jeff Thompson will provide music in the Yacht Basin at Tydings Park starting at 7:30 p.m., followed by a fireworks show at 9:30 p.m. The annual carnival opened Wednesday and runs 6 to 10 p.m. through Saturday and 3 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit www.havredegracejuly4.org.
The Greater Kingsville Civic Association and the Kingsville Volunteer Fire Company are sponsoring the 36th annual Kingsville Independence Day Parade, which will start at 10:50 a.m. from the fire company on Bellvue Avenue and proceed down Bradshaw Road to finish at St. Paul's Lutheran Church. Before the parade, an hour of entertainment will begin at 10 a.m. at the corner of Bradshaw and Jerusalem roads. For more information visit www.kingsvilleparade.org.