Behind the Scenes: The Makings of an Extraordinary Independence Day Parade

It’s a Village tradition every 4th of July. Residents of River Hill and members of the greater Clarksville/Columbia community turn out along Great Star Drive with tremendous excitement in anticipation of the annual Independence Day Parade. The hour-long patriotic procession of flags, floats, and marching groups brings thrills to both young and old with festive decorations, historic cars and costumes, and the fanfare of a small town.

Hundreds are able to enjoy the fruitful work of the small staff at River Hill Community Association (RHCA) that set the wheels in mo-tion to bring you this outstanding event from year-to-year. The planning begins five to six months before the big day as there is much to coordinate. Securing the parade permit from Howard County Police Department and obtaining permission from HCPSS for use of the Clarksville Middle School and Pointers Run Elementary School parking lots (and restrooms) as the pre-parade staging area is of critical importance early on. Without their partnership, the parade wouldn’t be possible. Then there are the registrations – typically totaling anywhere from 40-60 groups, most with vehicles, some with multiple elements such as the Veteran Service Organizations of the Howard County Joint Military Council, and all with an abundance of enthusiasm. This year being an election year, the number of parade registrations soared as many candidates wanted to get in on the parade action! Village staff members Eva Lambright and Jennifer Lynott worked tirelessly behind the scenes communicating with police about the parade route and road closure, the 5th District Volunteer Fire Department about leading the procession, the River Hill Station professional building management for approval to use their parking lot as the parade endpoint, organizing the registrations, creating the line-up, assigning parking spaces at the staging areas for each parade element, coordinating with Columbia Association Open Space to obtain use of their trucks, trailer and equipment for the RHCA floats, and a plethora of other tiny details. Orchestrating all of the fine points and getting all the participants lined up (in the right order) on the day of the parade is no small feat.

Local scout troops contribute their service to help ensure the event’s success and its continuation for years to come. Cub Scout Pack 702 serves as the Color Guard carrying flags for the entire 2.2 mile route. Boy Scout Troop 618 stands at the ready at various intersections along the parade route as Event Marshals with their yellow safety vests and red flags alerting motorists to the parade in progress. Finally, Cub Scout Pack 108 has an important yet dirty job, and they do it every year without complaint—picking up all the trash that gets left behind along Great Star Drive—and there’s a lot of it!

The significance of this event and the sense of community that it fosters truly takes a village. We’re already looking forward to July 4, 2023! Enjoy photos from this year’s parade on page 15 and at www.villageofriverhill.org.