Mother Nature had a direct order not to rain on Dundalk's Independence Day parade.
And she obeyed the mandate of parade chairwoman Pat Herman, who on Tuesday said, when asked about a rain policy for the procession, "It will not rain on our parade."
Weather forecasts called for as much as a 40 percent chance of scattered storms on Wednesday, but Herman was confident that weather would not interfere with Dundalk's 78th annual march of patriotism.
When the final units passed by the judges Wednesday morning, the longest parade in recent memory was officially in the history books, dry as a bone.
Participation in this year's parade was higher than usual, but Herman can't point to a particular reason.
Even though it is an election year, just about five political challengers participated, with the usual number of elected officials represented, according to Herman.
The number of participating car clubs was up, and each club seemed to have more cars.
"I hope people didn't think there were too many cars," Herman said. "We don't want the people to get bored."
Proud owners of Mustangs, Corvettes, SUVs—mainly Expeditions— and the Nissan Z series showed off their gleaming wheels with their clubs, as did many car owners participating on their own.
"The big difference this year was that we had 45 floats sign up, though three didn't make it," Herman said. "But last year, we only had 27 floats."
The theme of this year's parade was "Welcome Home the Troops," and Herman believes that may have had something to do with the surge in popularity this year.
"That theme means a lot to people, and they really got into it," she said.
Multiple honor guards were scattered throughout the procession, and all drew hearty rounds of applause as they approached carrying the colors.
Enthusiastic applause also accompanied the march of Vietnam War veterans and several carloads of World War II veterans, the youngest of whom are now in their mid- to late-80s.
Edgemere resident Dale Grimes, who walked the parade route dressed as Uncle Sam (one of several), lamented the gradual loss of World War II vets.
He said he remembers hearing a male relative tell him of seeing Civil War veterans in parades he witnessed as a child.
"Now our kids are seeing World War II veterans," he said.
Herman said she was pleased with the parade and grateful to a hard-working committee that makes it happen.
Funded by the Dundalk Heritage Association, the parade is organized and hosted by the Dundalk Heritage Parade Committee and the Optimist Club of Dundalk.
"It's a great committee and it really is a group effort," she said. "This isn't just one person, and people tend to forget that. Everyone does their part and that's what makes the parade happen."
Herman and her committee members enjoyed a much deserved break on Thursday.
But they won't rest for long.
Organizing the parade is like cooking Thanksgiving dinner—there's a lot of planning, preparation and execution, and then it's over in what seems like a blink of an eye.
The committee might take a short break, but members will be working on next year's parade before most people are thinking about back-to-school shopping.