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Neighbors joining neighbors to celebrate our independence

Is there anything more fun, more moving and more important than a hometown Fourth of July parade? Whether joining the parade or watching it, we celebrate our independence as a nation and as a people.     Across the land, communities large and small decorate themselves, their dogs and conveyances from baby buggies to trikes and bikes to convertibles, tractors, fire engines and floats. In a partnership of faith and delight, we join as one entity united by shared purpose.

The fun’s better when you stay safe

The Dream: You take family and friends out on your boat for an evening of spectacular fireworks. Your anchor sets on the first try. There is plenty of space between you and the other boats. You enjoy a picnic and a few cold ones. The weather is warm and clear; the kids enjoy taking a dip. Anticipation builds as the sky darkens; then the fireworks burst and boom. The colors are even more beautiful reflected in the water. Everyone oohs and ahs. After the big crescendo, you up anchor and head for home. Soon, you are tied up at the dock and saying your goodbyes.

Star-spangled nun commemorates our national anthem

Boat into Baltimore harbor, and you’ll see a buoy painted in the distinctive pattern of the American flag. The big star-topped nun — as conical buoys are called — marks the symbolic spot where The Star-Spangled Banner was born. Aboard a ship during the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that became our national anthem to celebrate the flag’s overnight survival: Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam, In full glory reflected now shines in the stream.

100 Years of the National Park ­Service, 10 for John Smith Trail

America’s first national park, Yellowstone, was preserved in 1872. So many followed that in 1916 the National Park Service was created to manage the then 35 national parks. This year is the centennial of the Park Service.

Look for Chessie Ruckus and his partner Officer First Class Jake Coxon in Annapolis

At first glance, the scene at Sandy Point State Park on a bright June morning had all the earmarks of a typical graduation ceremony. Camera-toting family and friends eagerly faced a lectern where officials gathered, diplomas at the ready. But instead of strains of Pomp and Circumstance, barks and yips were the music of the day.

Becoming a Riverkeeper was my way of helping change ­people’s lives

February 1, 2003, was the day I first learned about Riverkeepers. I remember it so clearly because it was the same date the Space Shuttle Columbia burned up in the earth’s atmosphere over Texas.     That was a sad day for the space program, but my life took a fortuitous turn. I was a mid-life law student taking a Ferris Bueller-type day away from my studies to attend a Tributary Strategies Team meeting at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in Annapolis. A guy swept into the room, and it seemed like all the oxygen suddenly went in his direction.

After three years in Chesapeake waters, Pride of Baltimore II resumes her voyages of goodwill

How long can you stay at home before the urge to get out of the house overwhelms you? That restless feeling also afflicts one of our local treasures: the sailing ship Pride of Baltimore II. This year she is finally escaping her home waters of the Chesapeake Bay, off on the high seas to do what she was built to do: travel afar to represent Maryland and foster friendships and economic relations.     Since 1988, Pride II has been all over the world as Maryland’s ambassador. But she hadn’t left Chesapeake Bay in three years.

It’s just a game for Senior Olympic billiards player Blaine Jacobs

What Olympic athlete would say the game is not about winning?     For one, Blaine Jacobs, Maryland’s Senior Olympic Gold Medalist in the sport of billiards.

Weather Smiles on River Riders

The weather gods cut cyclists and fundraisers a break on May 14. After days and days of rain, the storm clouds parted and a beautiful day was revealed, a great day for touring South County on a bicycle.     “We had 150 cyclists come out to enjoy the gorgeous day,” reported Jeff Holland, the West/Rhode Riverkeeper. “We were thrilled at the support of the community, especially the Annapolis Bicycle Club. We gave everyone a beautiful view of our watershed and a good feel for why we care about the quality of water here.”

92 and never, never, never giving up

Wind-driven waves roiled the river into a sandy soup for Bernie Fowler’s 29th annual Patuxent River Wade In June 12.     “It feels like the surf in Ocean City,” laughed a wader bound hand-in-hand to every other in the long line radiating out from the 92-year-old retired state senator and Patuxent River champion.