2024 PARADE RULES AND REGULATIONS
Deadline for APPLICATION is JUNE 17, 2024!
Participation in the Bel Air Independence Day Parade is by acceptance of application only; not all applicants may be accepted.
We, the members of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, have a vision of how our parade should look and feel. Participants in our parade are required to present themselves in a manner that is consistent with this vision.
First and foremost, we encourage all parade applicants to consider in advance how to "decorate" or craft their entry to conform not only to the general theme of an Independence Day Parade, but to the specific patriotic theme we choose each year for our parade.
We hope that parade applicants will find ways to illustrate this in what they plan to do. Our theme for 2024 is Bel Air – the Next 150 Years! — in honor of 2024 being 150 years since the Town of Bel Air was incorporated, and so we look forward to the next 150 years to come!
Any parade applicant and most especially all parade participants (whose applications have been accepted), are cordially invited to ask any member of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee for ideas or suggestions about this. We love creativity and we applaud those who exercise it!
In addition, it is also important to understand that our parade rules are intended to help participants understand what is proper parade conduct in any year. These rules are not all-inclusive. Consequently, parade participants may be given instructions by parade officials in the staging areas or during the parade, and participants must comply with such instructions immediately and completely, or they may be ejected from the parade, and will certainly not be invited to participate in future parades.
I. OVERALL DETAILS
A. Date and Time of Parade: Thursday, July 4, 2024, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm. Note: information on this page was accurate as of August 21, 2023, and is subject to change without notice. Applicants to the 2024 parade should be aware that rules, regulations, details of staging, parade route, dispersal, etc., are subject to change or revision with or without notice.
B. Theme of 2023 Parade: Bel Air – the Next 150 Years!
C. Description of Applicants: The Bel Air Independence Day Parade is pleased to invite many different sorts of units, including but not limited to color guards, floats, marching units, wheeling or riding units ("scouts on bikes"), motorized units, emergency vehicles, military vehicles, comic acts, car clubs, novelty units, commercial or business entries, equestrian units, etc., to apply to participate in our parade. SEE BELOW FOR DEFINITIONS AND LIMITS APPLYING TO THESE UNITS.
We, the members of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, produce this parade out of respect for our country and our community, to celebrate what is best in all of us, and to achieve our vision of a great cohesive community event — one that is rewarding to watch and fun for both participants and spectators alike.
Therefore, the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc., accepts applications from invited participants as it deems appropriate in this effort.
All participants must agree to follow our parade rules, which we list below. In the interests of presenting the finest entertainment value to the spectators, all businesses, associations, organizations and groups are encouraged to apply to enter as FLOATS, decorated in accordance with the theme of the parade. However, all units should attempt to decorate or illustrate their entries according to the theme, no matter what kind of entry they are — even an antique fire engine can be decorated to reflect the parade theme. We encourage your creativity!
D. PARADE ROUTE: The "Starting Point" for the Parade is the intersection of Idlewild and S. Main, which used to be the ending point. The Ending Point is the intersection of Gordon Street and North Main Street, at the "Welcome to the Town of Bel Air" sign. After leaving the Starting Point, the parade will proceed north-westward up Main Street (one way the right way!), splitting at the median in front of the Court House. The parade then continues down the hill to Lee and then up to its end, at E. Gordon Street. At the Parade End Finishing Point, marching units, floats and units requiring off-loading will be directed to designated dispersal areas by Parade Marshals; simple mobile units, car clubs, etc., will be directed straight toward Broadway or onto Gordon, where they may disperse and proceed as they wish. Specific instructions will be part of parade details, but also are subject to change and to circumstances at the parade itself.
E. Parade Formation: All units in the parade should report to the intersection of S. Main Street (Emmorton Road) and MacPhail Road, which is the entrance to the Homestead-Wakefield complex, where they will be directed by parade marshals; specific instructions will be e-mailed to participants, following their acceptance by the Committee. These instructions also include dispersal information.
The Parade Committee will assign each participant to a staging area. The Parade Committee may also confirm or change (if necessary) the category of the participant; this is to help in the organization and management of the parade, and also reflects the width of the streets, turning radius, and space requirements of each participant.
F. Formation Times: Staging is from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm on the afternoon of July 4. Specific locations for various units, how the parade is organized, and other important information will be e-mailed to the person submitting the application, following acceptance by the Committee of the participant.
G. Entry Fees Due with Application; Refund Rules:
- Applications from business or commercial entrants: Applications from business or commercial entrants, Foundations and large non-profit associations must be accompanied by an Entry Fee of $175.00; this applies whether the unit is a float, mobile unit, marching unit, etc. If you have any question as to whether your group falls within this category, please call 410-879-4245. The application will not be considered until the fee is received. If an application is NOT accepted, the Committee will refund the Application Fee less a $10 service charge.
- Applications from units sponsored by small non-profit associations Applications from units sponsored by small non-profit associations, civic organizations, churches or clubs (including scout packs, car clubs, etc.), or personal entries, must be accompanied by an Entry Fee of $10.00, payable with the application. If you have any question as to whether your group falls within this category, please call 410-879-4245. The application will not be considered until the fee is received. Since the fee is the same as the service charge, if an application is NOT accepted, there will be no refund.
- Applications from municipal entrants Applications from municipal entrants such as Police and Fire Departments, Elected Officials of Harford County municipalities, and official representatives of Harford Governmental Agencies or Departments, require no entry fee.
- Applications from Elected Officials of non-Harford County municipalities Applications from Elected Officials of non-Harford County municipalities MUST be accompanied by an Entry Fee of $175.00. See below for more information on this category. Again, if you have any question as to whether you fall within this category, please call 410-879-4245. The application will not be considered until the fee is received.
II. RULES FOR APPLICATION AND ACCEPTANCE INTO THE PARADE:
A. How to Apply:
B. About the Entry Fee
- ENTRY APPLICATION FORMS are to be sent in by e-mail, from the official Committee web site, using the On-Line Entry Application Form available by selecting this Link. DO NOT PRINT OUT APPLICATIONS.
- An Application Form can be provided if you are not able to use the on-line form. Please call 410-879-4245 and leave full details on how to contact you, or send an e-mail.
- ENTRY APPLICATION FORMS MAY NOT BE MADE or DROPPED OFF at the TOWN OF BEL AIR TOWN Hall.
- DEADLINE: ALL ENTRY APPLICATION FORMS MUST BE RECEIVED by June 17, 2024. The Committee reserves the right to CHANGE this deadline if, in the sole opinion of the Committee, such a CHANGE is warranted.
- Incomplete or late Entry Application Forms are subject to rejection and/or non-inclusion in judging.
C. Acceptance and Entry to the Bel Air Independence Day Parade
- The Entry Fee is a necessary part of the application, failure to include the Entry Fee will result in the Entry Form being rejected without notice.
- The Entry Fee MAY NOT BE SENT VIA FAX OR E-MAIL, but is IS payable using PayPal, which is instant and preferred. Pay via PayPal. It is the responsibility of the entrant to make sure the fee is received by the deadline, or the entry application form will be deemed INCOMPLETE. For questions, please call 410-879-4245. If you send a check, make it payable to THE BEL AIR INDEPENDENCE DAY COMMITTEE, INC.
- Participation in the Bel Air Independence Day Parade is by acceptance of application only.
- The Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc., reserves the right to invite, reject or accept any parade participant for any reason whatsoever, and to determine participation based on diversity, suitability for the occasion and the experience related to prior participation.
- The Committee's and the Judges' decisions as to the classification of parade units are final and not subject to review.
- Parade Officials or Parade Marshals may deny any participant entry to the parade on the day of the parade if, in the sole opinion of the Parade Officials or Parade Marshals, the entrant has misrepresented any information on its Application Form, or if the entrant is deemed obscene, dangerous, provocative or in any way unsuitable for the parade, at the sole interpretation of Parade Officials and Parade Marshals.
- REPONSE TO YOUR APPLICATION: A response to your application will be made as soon as possible after your application is received, by e-mail, to the e-mail address included in your application. Phone calls may also be made, especially if there are questions about your application. If you do not receive a response within a few days of your application's presumed receipt, you should follow it up at once by calling 410-879-4245. The Committee is not responsible for incomplete, non-delivered or misfiled applications.
III. PARADE PARTICIPATION RULES AND REGULATIONS
A. PARADE MARSHALS MUST BE OBEYED
B. ADDITIONAL ENTRANT CONDUCT RULES
- The parade marshals control the units, enforce parade rules and will arrange participants to pace the parade in a manner deemed most suitable; their instructions MUST be obeyed at all times.
- Failure to obey a parade marshal's order will result in immediate ejection from the parade and may possibly subject the offender to arrest.
C. THE PARADE IS A NON-SECTARIAN, NON-PARTISAN EVENT; therefore:
- Keep Your Distance! The parade controls the conduct of its participants on the streets it uses, up to the curbs on each side. On those streets, the units will be separated from the spectators on the sidewalks — meaning, we expect that a performing group will not "fill" the street (2 lanes+ wide), but instead will be "thinner" (and perhaps longer), also observing separation in itself. All parade units must be at all times no less than 6 feet from each curb of Idlewild and Main Street, and from each other, during the parade.
- NO THROWING or HANDING OUT ANYTHING: No entrant is permitted to throw or hand out any item to spectators. THIS RULE WILL BE STRICTLY ENFORCED. Violators of this rule will most likely not be accepted in any future parades.
- NO PHYSICAL INTERACTION with the CROWD: No unit is permitted to take or bring any spectator out of the crowd up, into or around the unit, or up on a float, or to entice or take any crowd member to participate in any dance or performance routine, or to throw or pass or give anything to any member or any unit or to the unit itself. No person in any unit should mingle or physically interact with the seated or standing crowd members. See above about all persons in units needing to keep a reasonable and clear 6-foot minimum distance between themselves and all members of the crowd.
- KEEP MOVING AT ALL TIMES: Stopping to perform (at any place!), pausing to "work the crowd," or anything other than a regular moving progression down the parade route, is not allowed. THIS RULE WILL BE STRICTLY ENFORCED.
D. SIGNAGE RULES; HEIGHT AND WIDTH RULES
- Elected officials of Harford County municipalities are invited to apply to participate in the parade free of charge out of respect for their offices; this includes the Town of Bel Air Commissioners; Elected Administrative and Court Officers of Harford County; Elected Officials of the Harford County Government; Maryland State Senators and Delegates with Harford County constituents; Maryland State Government elected officials with Harford County constituents; and United States elected officials with Harford County constituents.
- Elected officials of Harford County municipalities as described above, whose applications are accepted into the parade, may if they wish display a sign stating their name and the office they hold. No other signage is permitted.
- No elected official will be permitted to display material advertising any candidacy for public office, nor shall there be any campaigning along the parade route. THIS RULE WILL BE STRICTLY ENFORCED.
- Elected officials of Harford County municipalities as described above, whose applications are accepted into the parade, must ride in the parade in an automobile, Jeep or small SUV (not a truck, float or LARGE SUV), preferably a convertible, in order that uniformity of presentation may be achieved. PLEASE CONTACT US IN ADVANCE IF YOU ARE UNSURE IF YOUR VEHICLE "QUALIFIES." See below for more specific discussion of vehicles.
- There may be only one such vehicle per elected official.
- These elected officials may be accompanied only by immediate family members such as spouses, parents and children, and by the driver of their vehicle.
- All elected official participants must "fit" within the vehicle — walking is not permitted.
- Political clubs or Organizations such as Central Committees are not invited and may NOT participate, since they are by definition partisan.
- Candidates for elected office are not invited and may not participate as such.
- No unit in the parade may display any signage of a political nature such as "vote for" or "elect" or "impeach" or "vote to change."
- Elected officials of municipalities outside Harford County are invited to apply to participate, but their application to participate must include a $175 non-refundable Application Fee.
- Such elected officials as described in §III.C.11 above, if approved, may, at the discretion of the Committee, be placed in the parade according to their unit descriptive category (personal entry; mobile unit or marching unit; etc.) in the general deployment of the parade, rather than in any specific division.
- Such elected officials as described in §III.C.11 above, if approved, must obey the same appearance rules, including signage and vehicle restrictions, as applied to elected officials of Harford County municipalities.
E. FIREARMS PROHIBITED, EXPLANATION OF CATEGORIES of PARTICIPANTS & Number of Vehicles Allowed per unit
- Signs or banners are NOT required for entrants in the parade, but are encouraged in that they help spectators identify the entrant.
- Signs or banners may carry the name of the unit, sponsor, patriotic statement or title, preferably in keeping with the theme of the parade.
- Units and marchers may not display signs or banners which in the judgment of the Committee or the parade officials and marshals are inappropriate for this community event or for the vision of the event conceived by the Bel Air Independence Day Committee.
- In the case of the above, Parade Officials or Parade Marshals may direct participants not to display such signage or to cover them up; these directions must be obeyed as a condition of participation in the parade.
- No unit in the parade may display any signage of a political nature such as "vote for" or "elect" or "impeach" or any other politically-directed nature.
- Height Restriction: no unit and no part of any unit may be higher than 14 feet from the pavement. Parade Officials or Parade Marshals are authorized to make units conform to this necessary restriction.
- Width Restriction: All units must be able to fit inside one standard traffic lane.Parade Officials or Parade Marshals are authorized to make units conform to this necessary restriction.
F. Questions about Categories; Judging
- FIREARMS PROHIBITED: No participant or vehicle is permitted to display, hold, carry or have attached any side-arm, pistol, machine gun, rifle, shot-gun, grenade launcher or similar firearm, concealed or visible, or any replica of same, even if inoperable, as part of any parade unit. The exceptions to this rule are: (1) COLOR GUARDS and ACTIVE MILITARY UNITS are allowed to carry or contain their weapons as part of their full-dress participation; (2) HISTORIC RE-ENACTMENT GROUPS are allowed to carry historic reconstruction model weaponry; however, these must be shouldered at all times and may not actually be functional, and the holders thereof MUST NOT simulate using them at any time during the staging and parade; (3) this rule does not apply to law enforcement personnel who are tasked with helping stage, deploy or protect the parade. THIS RULE WILL BE STRICTLY ENFORCED.
- Rationale: The importance we place on vehicles and is critical due to the constraints of the staging area, the parade route and the dispersal area.
- The Committee strongly encourages all applicants and entrants to DECORATE their unit in accordance with the parade theme. Creativity is strongly endorsed! Also, all units are encouraged to have SIGNAGE front, side and rear of their unit, whether it be marching or mobile: this will greatly enhance the visability of your unit!
- Bands, Drum & Bugle Corps, Majorette Corps: These are understood to be organized, named units (e.g., "The Burlington, Canada, National Teen Tour Parade Band") that deploy on foot, playing music and sometimes performing to it. Motor vehicles sometimes follow these units for necessary reasons; however, no motor vehicles will be permitted to accompany these units down the parade route without notice and specific approval in advance.
- Color Guards: These are understood to be units that deploy on foot. No motor vehicles will be permitted to accompany these units down the parade route without specific approval in advance.
- Beauty Queens or Notable Individuals: These are understood to be units that require a motor vehicle, generally a convertible. Unless other arrangements are made, the Committee requires each participant to supply his or her own vehicle, driver, and signage.
- Musical Marching Units: this category refers to marching units that are not, themselves, highly organized named units, but which (as part of their parade activities) play music. Motor vehicles sometimes follow these units for necessary reasons; however, no motor vehicles will be permitted to accompany these units down the parade route without specific approval in advance.
- Non-Musical Marching or Wheeling Units: this category refers to marching units or bicycle-riders, that as part of their parade activities do not play music. Motor vehicles sometimes follow these units for necessary reasons; however, motor vehicles will not be permitted to accompany these units down the parade route without specific approval in advance. Note: units featuring walking dogs, cats or squirrels are considered Non-Musical Marching Units, as are "Scouts on Bikes" and other such units.
- Comic or Novelty Acts: this category is a broad one, and can include motor vehicles, marchers, performers, themed units, etc. It is important on the application for acceptance to be VERY specific as to number of motor vehicles, if any, and how large they are, due to staging area constraints. Unless specific permission is granted in advance, no Comic or Novelty unit may have more than two (2) motor vehicles as part of its presentation.
- Floats: The term "float" refers to a display of some sort that is either towed by a separate vehicle, or self-propelled, and which is decorated with crepe paper, flowers, bunting, structures or pictures, etc., to effect a unified theme and design theme, and which generally also includes people either performing or related to the subject of the float. Floats may be musical in nature, or not, but it is important to SPECIFY on the application whether or not music is included in the float. THE JUDGES' DECISION AS TO WHAT CONSTITUTES A FLOAT IS FINAL. For the purpose of staging, a unit that features a trailer pulled by a separate vehicle will most likely be considered a FLOAT. All floats are STRONGLY encouraged to decorate or structure themselves in accordance with the specific parade theme.
- Mobile Units: This category includes Commercial Mobile Units, Municipal Mobile Units, Personal Mobile Units, Car Clubs, Motorcycle Clubs, etc.
Commercial, Municipal and Personal Mobile Units are limited, per entry, to THREE (3) car-sized motor vehicles, or TWO (2) large truck or vans, or ONE (1) extra-large piece of equipment (such as a camper or 18-wheeler), absent specific permission otherwise, which must be granted in advance.
Car or Motorcycle Clubs may display multiple units, but the Committee urges each club to accurately estimate in advance the number of such units, since the staging will be affected by that.
The Committee also strongly suggests that each club or group DECORATE its vehicles in accordance with the parade theme.
Please consult the Committee if you have any questions, and be very specific on your application; acceptance for parades current and future in large depends on how a Mobile Unit performs and lives up to what was stated in the application.
- Antique Vehicles (cars, trucks, fire engines, military or police vehicles): These are defined as any vehicle, self-propelled, that is either more than 20 years old, or is no longer in active service (in the case of fire, police or military vehicles). Each entrant is permitted up to three (3) separate units, unless specific extra permission has been granted in advance. As stated above, decorating these in accordance with the parade theme should be achieved.
- Equestrian Units include any unit that includes a horse or livestock, or any domestic animals other than dogs or cats, whether on a float or walking. These units are generally staged together, in a separate area, and enter the parade as a group. There is no limit to the number of horses or animals in such a unit. The Committee provides clean-up for these units, although the use of "equine diapers" is encouraged. The Committee also encourages handlers or riders to attempt to convey the specific parade theme.
- Emergency Services/Fire Companies: this refers to organized and active Volunteer Fire Companies and Ambulance Corps.
- Elected Public Officials: see above for a detailed discussion of the rules related to the participation of Elected Public Officials in the parade.
- As mentioned above, the Parade Committee may also confirm or change (if necessary) the category of the participant; this is to help in the organization and management of the parade, and also reflects the width of the streets, turning radius, and space requirements of each participant.
- Judging and the awarding of prizes will be by category of participant.
IV. PRIZES TO BE AWARDED
A. The Official Parade Judges have sole authority to reward or not to reward all prizes.
B. Prizes may change without notice.
C. Prizes may be awarded as follows:
D. VERY IMPORTANT:
- Floats — 1st through 5th Place, at the discretion of the Judges.
- Equestrian Units — 1st through 5th Place at the discretion of the Judges.
- Bands and Drum Corps — 1st through 5th Place, at the discretion of the Judges.
- Antique Cars — 1st through 5th Place at the discretion of the Judges.
- Color Guards — 1st through 5th Place at the discretion of the Judges.
- Mobile Units — 1st through 5th Place at the discretion of the Judges.
- Marching Units — 1st through 5th Place at the discretion of the Judges ("rolling" units such as scouts on bikes count as marching units).
- Emergency Services — 1st through 5th Place at the discretion of the Judges.
- Comic/Novelty Acts — 1st through 5th Place at the discretion of the Judges.
- "Most Unique" Entry
- "Notable Persons" — any number, at the discretion of the Judges.
- Other Awards: Judges' Awards, honorable mentions, other awards of cash, trophies and/or plaques will be awarded if, in the opinion of the judges, they are merited.
The Judges are required to consider how well a unit is decorated or staged consistent with the theme of the parade as the most significant factor in awarding prizes!
We look forward to receiving your application to participate in the Bel Air Independence Day Parade! Now that you have read the Parade Rules, please go to the On-Line Parade Application Form.