Parades, Boating & Yes, Fireworks

Independence Day on the Bay 

The Fourth of July in the Chesapeake Bay region is usually a joyous—and muggy—occasion. We celebrate the birth of our nation with fireworks, local parades, cookouts and boating. Most years, we swelter, but it’s all part of the fun. We’re lucky to live alongside hundreds of miles of shoreline where we can cool off.  

The CBM Bay Weekly crew is out with the best of ‘em—not just reporting on local Independence Day events but experiencing them right along with the readers. No surprise here, many of us spend the 4th on a boat—whether in a kayak, a center console, or a cruising sailboat anchored out overnight. 

Others watch (and join) their town’s patriotic parades. Boy Scouts, marching bands, floats and kids’ bikes decorated with streamers make for some old-fashioned Americana. Publisher John Stefancik and his family walk the B&A Trail to see Severna Park’s parade. Managing Editor Kathy Knotts had the honor of judging the Shady Side 4th of July parade last year (sitting under a tent with fans like a VIP). She helped choose the winners for Best Float, Most Creative and even Best Antique Tractor. 

Production Manager Betsy Kehne has managed to pull off the total package: parades, boating, cooking out and fireworks. “Family and friends usually converge at my house. Early birds watch the Shady Side parade while the rest show in time for a cookout, kayaking and watching fireworks across the Bay,” she says. 

Staff writer Krista Pfunder often hosted a big grill-out at her Owings home, too. “I made everyone play Independence Day-related games (trivia about historical events, count the number of red, white and blue jelly beans in a jar, etc.),” she says. Advertising Account Manager Susan Nolan recalls standing on a rooftop with a dozen family members, belting out patriotic tunes, on her Fourth of July honeymoon. “It was one song after another… Star-Spangled Banner, My Country Tis of Thee, America the Beautiful, Yankee Doodle, 1814…” 

As for fireworks, watching the show by boat has been the ticket for Account Manager Audrey Broomfield—and for me, too. 

If you planned it right you could take in multiple fireworks displays in different parts of the sky. My family took a long weekend on the sailboat most years during my childhood. We often aimed for Cambridge, Oxford and St. Michaels—three sets of fireworks in one trip. Just after the grand finale of the show, I was allowed to sound the boat’s air horn, joining all the other vessels honking their appreciation.  

This Independence Day of course isn’t going to be exactly like those in the past. The biggest festivals and fireworks displays are canceled. Some of us will opt to head for the mountains, hold a 4th of July Zoom call, or watch fireworks displays on TV. Just like the rest of pandemic life, we’ll have to adjust our expectations and lean into the traditions we can celebrate safely. And there are still plenty of opportunities for fun. 

Cookouts? Yes! Just keep the group small and local. Boat rides? Absolutely. Follow proper safety precautions, knowing it’s the most popular weekend on the water all year. Parades? Yes, two cherished local parades are still taking place with modifications ( Fireworks? We’re sharing our list of public displays that haven’t been canceled along the Chesapeake. Some are private but may still be visible from a socially-distant location ( 

All of us at Bay Weekly look forward to getting back to our full-blown Independence Day traditions another year, but in 2020, we’ll celebrate the best Chesapeake Country has to offer. Happy 4th