Patriots show true colors Tradition: It was the Fourth of July, and that meant parades, barbecues, fireworks -- and this year, one of the last appearances for the Baltimore Colts Marching Band.

July 05, 1998|By Paula Lavigne | Paula Lavigne,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Greg Garland contributed to this article.

It wasn't the national anthem, but it whipped people to their feet in shouts of patriotism -- Baltimore style -- yesterday at Towson's annual Fourth of July parade.

The song was "Let's Go, You Baltimore Colts." And it was performed by the Baltimore Colts Marching Band in its last round of parade appearances in Towson, Dundalk and Catonsville before changing from blue to Ravens purple in a few weeks.

"This was my last time to yell, 'Fight, fight, fight,' " said Roseann Maher Curran of Cockeysville, who fairly shouted the fight song as the Colts band wound through the center of Towson. "I was yelling, 'Fight, fight, fight,' even after they were gone."

Parades, backyard barbecues and fireworks were the order of the day for thousands of holiday celebrants. Even pets were dressed for the occasion -- such as Corey, a bichon frise with a U.S. flag painted in red and blue lipstick on her curly white fur.

Corey, who belongs to Peg McCarty of Baltimore, was among the 85 dogs, cats, snakes, goats, alpacas and other costumed animals that trailed around the American Visionary Art Museum near the Inner Harbor for its second annual Pet Parade yesterday morning.

Amy Iager, 17, led the parade with her 4-year-old dairy cow, Preference, from Maple Lawn Farms in Fulton, Howard County. Preference won the Strut Your Stuff award, and had a red and white banner around her ample neck.

Most of the other contestants were more suited to the concrete city pasture.

Bob, an Australian sheep dog and collie mix, carried an Independence Day message of sorts -- a sign around his neck that read: "Off with leashes. Let my puppies go."

Bob's owner, Kelly Lane, said her canine "feels we should leash drug dealers and not well-trained dogs, like himself."

Children, not pets, carried the colors of patriotism in Severna Park, where Paul and Meg Kabis' three children pedaled past wearing red, white and blue cardboard Uncle Sam hats atop their bicycle helmets.

Affixed to each handlebar was a placard -- "With Liberty" for Stewart, 6; "And Justice" for Molly, 4; and "For All" for Ann, 2.

About 45 youngsters marshaled bicycles, tricycles, Big Wheels and wagons festooned with flags, crepe-paper streamers and other patriotic displays for the community's annual bicycle-decoration contest.

The celebration started at 10 a.m. with the 24th Severna Park Fourth of July Parade. Unlike the Towson parade, only one marching band -- from Severna Park High School -- was among the 111 entries.

About 115 bands, floats and antique cars -- along with some three dozen waving politicians -- paraded past thousands of people along the streets near the old Towson courthouse. The Burlington Teen Tour Band from Ontario, Canada, traveled the farthest: It was the band's 15th year in Baltimore County's Independence Day parades.

Fireworks marked the grand finale at several sites around Baltimore -- with the most spectacular display bringing tens of thousands of people to the Inner Harbor. Spectators even double-parked nearly bumper to bumper to watch the bursts from the Orleans Street viaduct, and formed a line of parked cars along a half-mile stretch of the Jones Falls Expressway.

Spectators who watched the 51-year-old Colts band at the daylong round of Baltimore County parades can anticipate seeing a band with at least 50 more musicians, black and purple uniforms and a new fight song when it returns to parades next year as the Baltimore Ravens Marching Band, said John Ziemann, the band's president.

The band is scheduled to perform in Havre de Grace's parade, scheduled for 2 p.m. today. Its last official performance as the Colts band will be Saturday as the musicians parade through the Inner Harbor to celebrate the opening of the ESPN Zone entertainment center.

They will debut as the Baltimore Ravens Marching Band on Aug. 8 during an exhibition game against the Chicago Bears in the new Ravens stadium.

Ziemann has been with the band for 36 years. He said volunteer musicians have held the group together from its founding in 1947, when it had 60 members, to today, with membership at almost 200. He said the band kept playing when there was no football team in 1951 and 1952, and after the Colts were spirited away to Indianapolis in 1984.

Bill L. Turcan, a trombone player for seven years, said the tradition will continue.

The holiday parades "end a great history with style," he said, as a whistle brought the band to attention.

"But it's time to change over and adopt the Ravens."

Pub Date: 7/05/98

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