Parade Your Way Through July 4 – and See Your Political Leaders

By Ana Faguy

As the seventh state in the union, Maryland has an incredibly rich and long history, and with the 4th of July just around the corner there is no better time to appreciate that history.

The holiday brings people from all across the country to the nation’s capital. But going to Washington, D.C., isn’t the only way to celebrate; Maryland has dozens of parades and celebrations of its own.

For elected officials and aspiring officeholders, the parades are a must: The celebrations bring out thousands of constituents and offer elected officials an opportunity to connect with voters on a personal level.

Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R), who also served in Congress and in the Maryland House of Delegates, said he would typically go to six or seven parades during a 4th of July weekend – and would always see his fellow officeholders at them.

He explained that if you were not there it was noticed and that it was a great opportunity touch people.

“People like seeing your family,” Ehrlich said. “It’s a requirement particularly in certain communities.”

For some politicians, there are strategic reasons to hit certain parades – even if they aren’t in their backyard.

State Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) has been going to four big Baltimore regional parades most years: Dundalk, Towson, Catsonville and Arbutus. He hits the parade in Takoma Park – which literally starts half a block from his home – considerably less often.

The parades provide a connection between government officials “and the people that we represent,” Franchot said.

He walks in all four parades to show his face and allows constituents to voice their concerns and talk to him about the work state government does.

Dundalk, whose parade happens early on the morning of July 4, is popular with politicians seeking to reach blue-collar voters and so-called Reagan Democrats who live there.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) plans to be there. He’ll also march in the Towson parade.

Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) plans to be in Clarksville and in Annapolis on Tuesday. He marched in the Havre de Grace parade on Sunday.

Hitting the Baltimore County parades can be tricky on the 4th: Dundalk runs from 8-11 a.m., Towson from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., and Arbutus from noon-2 p.m. The Catonsville parade begins at 3 p.m.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz (D), a likely candidate for governor next year, is moving into unfamiliar territory on Tuesday when he hits the Takoma Park parade. An email sent out to Democratic activists advises that Kamenetz will be walking the parade route and is urging interested people who want to meet him to gather in front of the Takoma Park municipal building half an hour before the parade’s 10 a.m. step-off time.

The Annapolis parade also attracts plenty of officeholders – it doesn’t start until 6:30 p.m. and is a good way of capping off a day of marching and pressing the flesh.

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