The Fourth, a good show

IMAGE:The 2015 Independence Day Parade. Photo by Eric Bond.


JUN 30—Takoma Park’s annual Independence Day parade and fireworks are charming, impressive, humorous, serious, small-town, hip, retro, modern, artistic, corny, progressive, patriotic, and sometimes challenging. In other words, it’s a good show.

The parade starts at 10 a.m. Monday, July 4 in Takoma Junction at the intersection of Carroll and Ethan Allen Avenues. At the lead will be the city police color guard, the grand marshals, and at least a dozen local politicians riding in vintage cars, bicycling or strolling, each in accordance with his or her image. Floats, bands, dogs, scouts, community organizations, political groups, and local businesses follow.

The more than 60 parade units and entries will travel south on Carroll Avenue into Old Takoma. The route will follow Carroll Avenue’s sharp turn to the right at the city clock, then right again onto Maple Avenue. Traveling north on Maple, the parade ends a couple of blocks past the Philadelphia Avenue/East-West Highway intersection. The parade lasts around two hours.

The entire parade route is lined with observers. Veteran watchers know the units do special performances where the crowds are thickest. Those are spots that offer more room than the usual side-walk width: Takoma Junction from the TPSS Co-op to the fire house, the gazebo park at the corner of Westmoreland, Laurel Avenue by the city clock to Maple. However those spots offer little shade. The Maple Avenue route is more shady and is usually packed, but other than the Maple and Tulip intersection, where units tend to perform, room is limited to sidewalk width.


The 2015 Independence Day Parade. Photo by Eric Bond.

Those with friends on Maple Avenue count themselves lucky. Many Maple Avenue yards and porches are party scenes. Units run through their routines on the Tulip-to-Philadelphia Avenue approach to the reviewing stand at parade’s end, where the largest mass of people will be.

That crowd will begin at the corner of Philadelphia Avenue and Maple where there are open public lands and closed streets on all sides. There is more shade on the southern side of Philadelphia. The reviewing stand will be in front of Piney Branch Elementary School on Maple Avenue, half a block north of the intersection. There are also usually ice-cream and other venders at this location.

The MacMillan Pipe Band will be there in kilts, the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and Brownies will be there in uniform and the Maryland Faerie Festival Flying and Marching Unit will be there in who-knows-what.

At least three steel-drum bands will roll down the parade route, so will the Free State Roller Derby team. There will be traditional marching units and bands too: the Baltimore Twilighters, the aforementioned MacMillan bagpipers, the Infinite Elite Dance Team “Dazzling Dolls,” and the Fusion Marching Cadets Jr. Drum and Bugle Corps. The Mass Destruction Marching Unit, the Greenbelt Training Marching Drill Team, and the Sherman Avenue Precision Drill Team may not march in the traditional sense.


The 2015 Independence Day Parade. Photo by Kerri Redding.

Politics will be on parade. US Congressman Chris Van Hollen will appear. He’s running for US Senate, having won the recent Democratic Party primary. The Maryland State SenatorJaime Raskin, a Takoma Park resident will also be in the parade. He is running for the US Congress seat about to be vacated by Van Hollen. Raskin’s own home happens to be on the route, so Takoma Park, his strongest support base, is likely to hail him with wild enthusiasm. The odds strongly favor both candidates in the upcoming general election.

Two youth organizations have been named Grand Marshals: Making A New United People (MANUP) and the Young Activist Club. MANUP is program for at-risk, under-served teens. The Young Activist Club is for younger children – third through eighth grade. The club successfully lobbied the county school system and the city to ban polystyrene products. Both groups encourage self-empowerment and community involvement.


The 2015 Independence Day Parade. Photo by Eric Bond.

The evening program ending in fireworks begins at 7 p.m. at the Takoma Park Middle School. The acoustic rock band ilyAIMY will play, followed by Washington Adventist University’s AcroAirs and the Takoma Park Community Band.

Takoma Park mayor Kate Stewart will welcome the crowd. Parade and raffle drawing winners will also be announced.

Following the national anthem the fireworks display begins around 9:30. They are held at the Takoma Park Middle School, 7611 Piney Branch Road. The pyrotechnics draw a large crowd and parking is limited. There is some parking in the school parking lot and on nearby side streets, but not on Piney Branch Road.


The 2015 Independence Day Parade. Photo by Eric Bond.

The parade has no rain-date. However, if the fireworks are rained-out, they will be held on the first clear night following July 4. More information can be found on the Independence Day Committee website.

Raffle tickets are on sale at Old Takoma Ace Hardware, 7001 Carroll Ave. Ace Hardware is the evening entertainment sponsor.

The parade and fireworks are an all-volunteer operation. The Takoma Park Independence Day Committee, Inc. is a non-governmental organization. A city grants funds less than half the expenses, the rest is covered by donations from businesses, church, organizations and residents. The committee seeks volunteers every year.




About the Author

Bill Brown
Bill Brown moved to Takoma Park in 1982. He has been involved in journalism in one way or another since he co-published an underground high-school newspaper in the late 1960s.