Our favorite July 4th activity is the annual patriotic parade in the neighborhood of our family’s cottage. As noontime approaches, every neighbor up and down the road starts listening for the music of the calliope. Every year a family who lives “up the road aways” puts their circus calliope on their red, white and blue-decorated trailer hitched to their tractor and leads a parade of their neighbors in cars, trucks, trailered boats and jet skis, golf carts, bikes, or more.
When we hear the calliope music floating across the river, all our neighbors come outside with chairs to sit in, flags to wave, and cameras to capture the parade when it comes by. We cheer and click pictures, wave our flags and marvel at the creativity of the homemade floats. Many neighbors over the years have even gone up the road to join the parade as participants.
One year, my dad created a panoramic photographic poster of the parade he pieced together from the photos he took of the previous year’s parade, and when the parade’s founder drove up with the calliope, Dad stepped up to present the poster to the man. Both men were moved by the patriotic tradition we all have come to love.
This touch of Americana is a wonderful way to celebrate our country’s independence. A neighborhood parade is an activity that can get everyone into the patriotic spirit. It involves the whole neighborhood either as participants or viewers.
About a month before the holiday, talk with your neighbors to see if there is interest, and then start your planning. Deciding what kind of parade or accompanying activities you want to have is first and foremost. If you just want to have a parade, you may want to hold it in the morning before it gets too hot or folks have plans to attend lunchtime cookouts or pool parties. If you want to have an evening block party or folks want to go to a community fireworks display, you might want to have the parade in late afternoon.
Invitations to participate and watch the parade can be issued in a variety of ways. You can post signs at neighborhood intersections. These are passive ways to include neighbors, but the best way is to go door-to-door to make personal contact. Your children and their friends may enjoy going around to take a little flag or patriotic favor with a printed invitation to each home in the area. Be sure to include what to do in case of bad weather.
If this is to be a more elaborate event and you want to block off your street, contact your city or county about any permits you may need.
For lots more specific tips for setting up a Fourth of July neighborhood parade, check out this Plan a Fourth of July Parade handout.