Fourth of July parades are so filled with tradition you might not notice changes from year to year. But to participants, each parade is special. They love the cheers from the crowds — and they’re ready for the heat of the day.
“We’ve seen the Towson parade grow from small into mammoth,” said John Ziemann, president of Baltimore’s Marching Ravens. About 35 of the 150-member band will march on Friday, just as the band has for more than 20 years — since back when they were known as the Batlimore Colts Marching Band. “We used to wear full dress uniforms — jacket, long pants, hat — that we use now for games,” Ziemann said. “We learned our lesson the hard way. People were dropping from the heat. So we have a summer uniform of purple polo shirt with the band logo, black shorts, white socks, white tennis shoes and a Ravens baseball cap. You have a lot less people dropping.”
And that isn’t all, he notes. “We have an equipment truck that follow us with water, Gatorade, our own paramedics. If someone goes down, we don’t hold up the parade,” he said. A 20-member euipment crew keeps the musicians marching.
The O’Connor School of Irish Dance is making its debut this year. Founded in 2012, the Towson school has more than 70 students from age 4 to adult. The school’s dancers have participated in St. Patrick’s Day parades so they have some idea what to expect, according to founder and president Casey O’Connor.
“When people on the parade route see Irish dancing, they start dancing, too,” O’Connor said. “We dance most of the parade route. It’s a parade dance routine that keeps us moving forward instead of stepping in place like traditional Irish dance.”
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