Starting tonight, thousands of people are expected to descend on Fort Meade to take part in a four-day Fourth of July celebration that includes a carnival, professional bicycle race and fireworks.
"It is a way of keeping involved in the community," said Don McClow, a spokesman for the Army installation. "We are a part of the community."
McClow said the combination of the carnival and fireworks has been a tradition at the base for at least five years. Last year, he said, more than 40,000 people attended the event at McGlachlin Field.
The carnival begins at 6 tonight and will close at 10 p.m., with the same hours Thursday. On Friday, the carnival will open at noon. It will include musical shows, booths, roving entertainment and karate, aerobics and fencing demonstrations.
Parking will be available at Burba Park, off Llewellyn Avenue, and in a parking lot across the street off Broadfoot Road.
On Saturday, the third annual Cherry Bomb Criterium Bicycle Race will start at 10:30 a.m. with opening ceremonies that may include a jet fly-over and a parachute drop by the 11th Special Forces. The races are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and end at 6 p.m.
The six to eight races will include professional, amateur and novice divisions. The racers will travel a rectangular field around Cooper and English avenues and Mapes Road.
At noon Saturday, the 11th Special Forces will perform a rappelling demonstration.
Throughout the day, a ragtime band, a children's magic show, a clown performance and several bands will be on display. The First U.S. Army Band will give a concert at 8 p.m., and fireworks will go off at 9:30.
The carnival will continue from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.