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Mike Blum: The Invisible Ringmaster

This Fourth of July will be Mike Blum’s 22nd year on the Town of Bel Air's Independence Day Committee.

“The world’s greatest amateur theater production: 2,000 performers, 35,000 spectators, no rehearsal” takes place right here in Bel Air. Mike Blum, vice president of the Independence Day Committee, shared this description of the .

What began in 1963 with a few floats, cars and fire engines, has become a well-known event that draws thousands of people. The Independence Day Committee organizes the annual July 4th parade, which is only possible with the help of dedicated citizens like Mike Blum.

Contributing in many different ways to the committee since he began in 1989, Blum has done public relations, fundraising and has been parade chairman and the program creator. For 20 years, he has even dressed as Uncle Sam.

What keeps this ringmaster so involved in the non-profit organization is “sheer-cussed stubbornness,” Blum wrote in an email. “There is no reward for the job except the satisfaction of pulling it off as best as possible, considering the variables. … There’s an emotional gain that has grown and grown in importance.”

Much of what Blum contributes is done behind the scenes. Town Administrator Chris Schlehr has worked with Blum for almost 10 years.

“Mike does this for free because he has a heart for the town,” Schlehr said. “He is the epitome of organization … and he inspired me to provide everything I can to him with town resources to make the parade a success. … You don’t find people like him everywhere.”

Blum’s desire to serve the community is due to his love of performing arts, in which he was involved for 15 years. He applies his passion for the stage to his work with the committee.

In regard to being a part of the parade, Blum wrote in an email: “It's the greatest feeling in the world. It's the most wonderful experience imaginable. Yes, it's tense and scary and sometimes things go badly. But you go on with the show.”

Todd Holden June 12, 2011 at 06:57 PM
the town owes a big debt of gratitude to Mike and his volunteers...without whom the town would be in the same, sad shape it was in before Mike stepped up. Good going MIke...untold numbers of folks and their families appreciate the efforts that make our Fourth of July parade a fun time.
Michael Blum June 13, 2011 at 01:44 PM
thanks, Todd ... Don Stewart leads the committee, and leads it well. Many deserve praise and thanks -- we put out a program each year and try to give everyone the recognition due, but it's hard. mike

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