LAUREL, Md. -- For more than 35 years, the City of Laurel has celebrated Independence Day on July 5. It's an annual tradition that unites friends, family, and neighbors.
"I think this is a great opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate something special together," says Laurel Mayor Craig Moe.
The day begins with a parade down Montgomery Street that included firefighters, police, cub scouts and bands. It ends with a fireworks display over the Laurel Lake at sunset.
"The parade is great for the kids, and then we'll do some chores, maybe do a barbecue and go see the fireworks," says Laurel resident Shane Schaffer.
Volunteers from both candidates running for Maryland Governor in November attended, as did the Charm City Rollers, a roller derby team.
"I like the derby girls because it's fun to see them skate," says 7-year-old Valerie Swing, as she picked up a Tootsie Roll and a lollipop. "I like the candy too."
Swing's brother marched in the parade and her parents watched the festivities in front of Laurel Elementary School.
"This is really great for the kids. It's a little more local. It's easier," says Ed Swing. "You don't have to schlep all the way down and fight the Metro and the crowds on the Mall. We went to the fireworks in Columbia and it was just really crowded with a lot of traffic."
Others consider the Laurel 4th of July celebration as an opportunity to teach others about the country's history.
"Especially for the younger kids, it's good to know why we celebrate the Fourth, what is it about, why did the United States want independence from the British," says Daniel Medeiros of the Cub Scouts Local Pack 606.
But for Dylan, a 6-year-old in the scouts, he enjoys the pomp and circumstance.
"My favorite part is the fireworks because of all the lights and the sounds," he says.
Others came to see the antique cars and horseshoe throwing contests. There was a hot dog eating contest and music down on the lake.
"A lot of people think our fireworks are one of the best in the area," Moe says. "People bring their chairs out on the lawn and participate in the festivities. They don't have to go far."
© 2014 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.