The tight-knit community of Morningside has embraced its annual Independence Day celebration for more than three decades. Due to the efforts of Morningside Town Council members and several volunteers, the township was able to celebrate its 34th Annual Independence Day this past 4th of July. Residents lined the sidewalks along Suitland Road, just outside the front entrance of Joint Base Andrews. Several people waved American flags and wore patriotic clothing, while others reclined in lawn chairs in their front yards. The shrill sound of sirens signaled the start of parade.
Fire Lt. Michael McCartney drove the fire truck that belonged to the 11th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Fire Department at Joint Base Andrews. Fire Capt. Carl McKlveen waved to his neighbors as firefighters from Fire Station One drove the lead fire truck in the parade. McKlveen is a resident of Morningside, where he volunteers as a part-time, with the Morningside Volunteer Fire Department.
“I joined the volunteer fire department in 1986 when I was just 16. So one way or another I would’ve been involved with the parade in some capacity. We’ve done this a couple of times over the years.” said McKlveen, who simultaneously serves as a full-time firefighter at Joint Base Andrews.
The parade was well-received by the residents and Morningside’s seven-officer police department.
“I left for a brief time and came back. I have a total of six years here,” said Morningside Chief of Police, Amos Damron. “I’ll be honest, I’ve been at six parades here, and, in my opinion, this is the best parade we’ve had to date. I think the participants were outstanding and the number of residents that came out was great. Many of them were giving the parade a thumbs-up.”
Corporal Derrick Harris is a police officer who has worked for the Morningside Police Department for the past eight years. He enjoys the parade interaction with the residents and laid-back atmosphere of the township, after moving from a more fast-paced city like Brooklyn, New York.
“I’ve covered eight parades since I joined the department here. It was an adjustment coming here. Just Brooklyn alone has more people than the township of Morningside,” said Harris. “It’s more laid back here though. It’s has kind of an older feel to it, unlike New York. In New York, you can live just one block from someone and never even know them. Here, everybody knows each other. I’ve been here and covered enough parades for everyone to know me.”
Morningside Vice Mayor, Bernard Cann, waved at the residents as he walked down Suitland Road. It was his first time participating in the parade. Cann has been a resident of Morningside since 2007.
“It was a great opportunity to interact with the citizens to see exactly what’s going on. I got a chance to see smiles on their faces for a good purpose,” said Cann.
Town Council Member Todd Mullins has lived in Morningside for the past 5 years. He drove a golf cart down Suitland Road while waving at residents and tossing candy to children.
“The parade here is a huge event, and it’s really inspirational. It helps us to enjoy the holiday even more,” said Mullins. “This is my first year actually participating in the parade. It’s was quite nice.”
Seated in a couple of lawn chairs, Sandra Rolls, a Forestville resident, and her niece, Courtney, were among the first people waiting to see the parade. It was their first time.
“I’m here because my granddaughters are riding in the parade,” said Rolls. “But I’ll be back next year.”