For 10 years, thousands of county residents have celebrated their Fourth of July at Downs Park.
Sure, it's exhausting work lugging those lawn chairs, coolers and kids to that perfect spot. But the fireworks and other events are well worth it, and this year should be no exception.
The park will open at 4 p.m. on July 4. As usual, no parking will be allowed in or around the park or in surrounding neighborhoods.
Vehicles must be parked at the Chesapeake High School-Middle School complex on Mountain Road. Free shuttle buses will transport people to and from the park all day.
For everyone's safety and enjoyment, please don't bring fireworks, sparklers, pets or alcoholic beverages into the park. No swimming is allowed.
Picnic lunches are welcome, but if you do not bring enough for your hungry crowd, food and beverages will be for sale.
Afternoon activities will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the third annual Children's Parade.
Children of all ages are invited to dress in patriotic colors and march through the park. Captain Seaweed and clowns Bingo, Mandy and Kohl will make appearances. Young children must be accompanied by an adult.
Music at the amphitheater will begin at 6 p.m., with the big band sound of Amaretto. The Paddyfields will follow at 7:30 for an hour of country music.
A special 10th-birthday celebration by the Friends of Downs Park and local dignitaries will begin at 8:30 p.m. The day's climax -- the 45-minute fireworks display -- will start at 9:15. The Zabelli Family will shoot them off, with narration by Baltimore's own Johnny Dark.
And wait, the evening's not over yet. At 9:45 p.m., the Essentials will be on stage performing reggae and pop-rock dance music while you wait for the crowds to disperse.
Along with the excitement in the stage area, there will be a face-painting booth for the younger crowd, and antique car lovers can admire vehicles from the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America's Bay Country region in the main parking area.
Chances will be on sale all day on a red and green quilt lovingly created by the Downs Park Quilters Guild Tickets. Tickets are $1, and the lucky winner will be drawn at 8:45 p.m. This year's quilt, a variation on the Baltimore Quilt, will be on display near the park's information center.
As in past years, the park will be closed July 5 for cleanup and maintenance.
In case of rain, only the fireworks display will take place on July 5.
Don't forget to pack your camera if you plan to attend the park's July Fourth celebration. Who knows, maybe you'll take the winning snapshot in the first "Day in the Life of Downs Park" photography contest.
The contest is open to amateur photographers. Contest organizers will accept only 35mm prints or slides that have been taken on July 4 at the park.
Entries will be accepted in two categories: open/general and patriotic.
Photos must be received by July 31. Judging will completed by Aug. 3. Department of Recreation and Parks staff and Severna Park Photo employees are ineligible to compete.
You can obtain contest rules at Severna Park Photo (this year's official sponsor) or by mailing a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the park.
For more details, call 222-6230.
* Beginning Sunday and continuing throughout July and August, Magothy United Methodist Church will offer breakfast after the 9:30 a.m. Chapel in the Woods worship service.
The cost is $3 for adults and $2 for children ages 5-10. Youngsters, ages 4 and under, can eat free.
A different church committee will conduct the Sunday breakfast each week, so menu items will vary.
Proceeds will be used to help defray the cost of a new furnace and air conditioning system in the church.
* The Silver Sands Improvement Association will have a community flea market beginning at 8 a.m. tomorrow at its community hall on Norfolk Road, between West and North Shore drives, off Solley Road.
Space is available for $6, and may be reserved by calling 266-9348.
Refreshments will be available.
The rain date is July 18.
* The Girl Scouts of Central Maryland has openings in its Camp Whippoorwill day camp programs for girls entering grades one through six who reside North County.
Sessions will operate 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 6-10 and Aug. 3-7, with bus transportation from selected sites.
The camp is open to registered Girl Scouts and non-members.
Adult volunteers and program aides are needed.
For details, call Ruby Schwinn at 789-1910.
* The Pasadena Chargers invite baseball card dealers to participate in their upcoming Baseball Card Show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Earleigh Heights Fire Hall on Ritchie Highway.
Dealer tables are $40 each, or two for $70.
To reserve your table, call Bill Rothenbecker at 544-2077.
* Parents and students, take notice: Chesapeake High School has announced its summer office hours.
The office will be open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays.