Beneath the scorching sun, you could smell the grilled meats and sugary sweets, while hearing the joy in youngsters’ high-pitched voices as they shouted to their parents what they wanted to eat.
The numerous food vendors lined up along Cooper Avenue took on a cluster of hungry crowds as people pushed strollers and set up tents, lawn chairs and beach towels on McGlachlin Parade Field.
The most popular vendor had a line backed up from the pavement to the field as staffers served gyros, cheesesteaks, hot dogs, chicken tenders and lemonade.
The food, however, was just one highlight of Fort Meade’s Red, White & Blue Celebration. The annual Asalute to Independence Day was held Friday from 4-10 p.m. at McGlachlin Parade Field.
The public event featured free inflatable rides, a zip line and a kiddie train as well as musical entertainment and a variety of vendors.
“This is my first time at the Red, White & Blue celebration,” said Spc. Jonathan Woods of Reece Crossings Woods. “I’m just here having fun. I’m thinking about coming out again next year.”
As the field flooded with parents and children enjoying the rides and games throughout the celebration, there was one particular game that got the crowd going. “Minute To Win It” was the name of the game. Players were given approximately 60 seconds to complete a random challenge.
“Whoo hoo!” Woods, 26, shouted just before taking on one of his challenges.
Early in the day, lead singer Jared Mahone and his band took on the first live entertainment act with “garage soul.”
While gently tapping her feet to the beat, Marcia Eastland, the Protestant Religious Education coordinator at Argonne Hills Chapel Center, sat back and enjoyed the music coming from the stage.
“They sound good, but he can’t really hit the high notes,” Eastland said jokingly while watching the band’s during its performance to Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time.”
“Michael Jackson sings like a girl; I’ll try my best,” said Mahone before attempting to hit the high notes.
As the sky grew dark, classic rock band Til September lit up the night with classic rock. People surrounded the stage with wicked dance moves from the 1980s, along with original moves as the band performed Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose,” Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way,” and Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music, White Boy.”
Mike Fell of Baltimore and Dawn Mitten of Cecil County didn’t hold back as they swayed their hips while grooving to the music.
“We’re just out here enjoying life,” said Fell, 55, during a brief break before the next set.
Mitten, 51, said they are “huge” fans of Til September.
“We’ve traveled as far as two hours to go see them perform live,” she said. “They’re actually playing at our wedding this upcoming July.”
Glow sticks and glow necklaces shined through the darkness as children ran around the field with them while patiently awaiting the grand finale — a 30-minute fireworks extravaganza.
Army Reserve Spc. Milton Lawrence of Normandy Bluffs played a few rounds of catch with his 3-year-old son Jordan before the big show.
“This is my third year in a row coming to this event,” said Lawrence, 28. “The fireworks are pretty cool; they’re the best I’ve ever seen.”
Moments before the first firework shot off, the crowd joined in with Til September proudly singing, “God Bless America.”
Right after the crowd sang the final lyrics, “My Home Sweet Home,” a huge burst of light fired into the sky to start the colorful show.
Crowds broke out in cheers and applause, capping the fun-filled celebration.