Can Glen Burnie support two big parades in one month?
The Glen Burnie Improvement Association is making plans to hold its traditional Memorial Day parade the afternoon of May 22. The old-fashioned parade, revived in 1988, is a sure thing, moved ahead one week from the holiday so that it does not conflict with prom and beach plans.
But some people fear that the parade's thunder may be stolen a week earlier. The Northern Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce is hoping to organize a Preakness Parade on May 15, one week earlier. The organization still has to get at least one big sponsor and state approval to march up Ritchie Highway.
"I don't view it as a problem. I think we are catering to different interests, shall we say," said Dan Boyd, president of the Northern Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce.
Organizers of the two parades say they expect to co-exist peacefully, at least this year. But some in the association wonder if their parade's appeal would wane in coming years if the chamber's Macy's-style extravaganza takes hold.
"Ours is a local parade," said Joe Corcoran, the civic group's parade organizer. "It's a veterans parade. We have scouts, high school bands. It's a family-type thing with the whole community participating in it."
Last year's parade featured 500 marchers -- not counting horses -- and about 10,000 parade watchers.
"No, it will never go away," Mr. Corcoran said. But, he warned, "in years to come, [the Preakness parade] would have some impact. With all the glitz and glamour of the Preakness, people will migrate over to that parade -- the people who want to perform -- if it gets national attention. I wouldn't blame them."
The business group has promised not to court the multitude of local organizations that march in the community parade. But while Mr. Corcoran does not want to lose the high school bands that march in the community parade, he said, it would be unfair to summarily exclude them from what could be an opportunity to be in a televised extravaganza.
Directors of the Glen Burnie Improvement Association were divided when the chamber sought their blessing last month. Instead of drafting a letter of support for the business group's effort, association directors are bringing the question up at next week's meeting.
"Our members are going to vote on it," said Richard Wengert, president of the influential association.
Concerns center around the potential for a Preakness Parade to dwarf the community parade, as well as for what blocking Ritchie Highway for half a day could do to neighborhood traffic. The Memorial Day parade route has stayed away from the busy highways, winding from the area of Crain Highway and Aquahart Road north to the association's carnival grounds.