- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The inaugural Pride in the Park parade offered many Lexington Park families front row seats Saturday to watch as horses, dancers, a marching band, county officials, fire engines and others made their way through the community.
Ijayla Bowman, 6, had only to walk outside her front door to get a prime view of the parade. She waved to each passerby — especially to a herd of horses and riders led by St. Mary’s County’s Farm Bureau Princess Christy Marie Cusic, 16, of Clements — as her family looked on.
“It’s cool,” her mother, Latera Webb, said. “I like it.”
The parade was held in part to celebrate the completion of a host of improvements made along and near Great Mills Road. County officials and others paused for a few moments midway through the parade at Great Mills Road and Essex Drive to cut a ribbon for the road improvements.
The color guards from the U.S. Navy and St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, Great Mills High School NJROTC color guard, Taylor Gas Co., Mike’s Bikes, local churches, library personnel and other businesses and groups participated in Saturday’s parade, which was sponsored by the Lexington Park Business and Community Association.
“It’s everything a hometown parade should be,” Robin Finnacom, president and CEO of the St. Mary’s County Community Development Corp., said Saturday.
The weather held up, and featured sunny, warm skies, she said. And, the more than 600 participants in the parade were able to orderly assemble at the Bay District Volunteer Fire Department parking lot.
“All of the participants seemed to enjoy it,” Finnacom said. The same could be said of the spectators, who “came out in droves,” she added.
Annilee Hampton, 9, came with her mother and father to watch the parade from in front of Lexington Park Elementary School. Her father, Stan Hampton, said that they live in California, “But today we’re all part of Lexington Park.”
A section of Great Mills Road as well as several other Lexington Park streets were closed for about an hour Saturday morning to accommodate the parade.
Finnacom said she hopes that the parade will become an annual tradition in Lexington Park.
The Lexington Park and Great Mills corridor has been home to parades before. Annual Memorial Day parades were featured in Lexington Park for a time, at least through the mid-1960s. And more recently Great Mills High School held homecoming parades, but that ended recently.
About $9.7 million in funding from state, federal and local governments as well as the St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission paid for improvements in Lexington Park, including stormwater management improvements, sidewalks widened and added along the street, the addition of a partial median and landscaping, commercial entrance consolidations and the rebuilding of sewer and water lines.
The project took 11 years to complete, Finnacom said.