For those of you who live in the United States, Happy Independence Day! I thought I should write a post today with a holiday theme and decided to write on parade watching. This will be a little shorter than usual, so you can get on with your activities.

When I looked up the history of parades, I found that they started as a way to celebrate military victories. The political ruler or military commander would head up the march through the city with the soldiers following. The leader would show off his prowess and the civilians would cheer him and the army on.

Religious authorities and politicians used parades in much the same way. A parade would be a way to communicate their platforms. The crowds that gathered along the parade route would allow opportunities for these leaders to interact with the common folk.

One of the largest parades still functioning is the Macy’s Day Parade. Started in 1926, the original parade was made up of employees. They also used animals from a New York City zoo in the procession. The parade was organized as an advertising promotion.

Today it seems like the sky is the limit in every way regarding parade statistics. The cost of floats in major parades can run above $100,000. In 2016, over 3.5 million people stood in the cold to watch the Macy’s parade, with millions more watching on television. You can begin to calculate the number of flowers it takes to create a Rose Parade float when you realize that it takes 20 daisies to cover a square foot and even more of the smaller flower varieties.

My personal experience with parades began when my daughter was about four years old. Although I recall going to one or two growing up, it wasn’t anywhere near a regular occurrence in our family. The year my daughter was four, she was invited to walk the parade with our local library. I dropped her off at the starting point and then hurried off to find a place to watch along the route. As she proudly marched by, I suddenly realized I had placed her in the wrong library group. I’m so glad the correct group hadn’t gone by first or I would have been freaked out that my young daughter wasn’t with them.


Another year my daughter marched with the local Girl Scouts. Somehow I got pulled into the procession (I was a leader at the time). I felt very uncomfortable being in the public eye and the fact that I’d quite severely cut my leg just the day before didn’t make me feel physically well either. My scar is a continual reminder of a walk I shouldn’t have done.

I’ve compiled a quick list of important things to bring along to the next parade you attend as a spectator. Most of the parades we’ve attended have been during warm weather. You may need to modify this list if you are attending one during cold weather.

  • Seating – We’ve used folding chairs, blankets, and cushions. The chairs sometimes provide a better view. A blanket allows you to stake your territory more definitively and frequently be closer to the action. After trying a number of combinations, we settled on chairs for the adults who’d sit behind the kids who were on a blanket.
  • Weather protection – Independence Day usually calls for hats, sunglasses, and sun lotion, but there are some years you might need a sweatshirt or rain gear. I generally stay away from umbrellas, as they can block the view of those behind you.
  • Water – Nothing like sitting along the pavement for hours to make you dehydrated.
  • Short activity for the kids to do – We learned that if you want a good place from which to view the procession, you need arrive early. Small toys, coloring pages, or books can help pass the time while you are waiting for the parade to start.
  • Bags – We were shocked the very first year to find out how much candy and trinkets the kids collected. Pocket space just wasn’t enough. We found out that years when a lot of politicians were running for office were years of abundant goodies. Besides candy, we also collected many creative items, some of which we still use today (jar openers, yard sticks, etc).
  • The most important thing to pack whenever you are at a crowded event is your patience. With nothing better to do, you will notice annoying people around you. There are the people who don’t clean up after their dogs. Some people just throw their trash in the grass. Others are oblivious as their children run into the road for a stray treat. Early on, we were sitting next to a young boy who’s primary mission was to provide dentists with income. He lunged after every piece of candy that was thrown anywhere nearby. To fulfill his quest, he would topple over my daughter in order to grab the candy missile first. Either because my daughter had been taught better manners, or perhaps because she had always been a passive child, she allowed him free reign. I, on the other hand, was becoming majorly annoyed with the child – and even more with his nonchalant parents. However, I bit my tongue, realizing that she needed the candy like she needed a hole in her tooth. Finally a piece came whizzing right into her lap. I let out a triumphant laugh. That’s when she held out the piece to him and said, “Was this yours?”

Happy July 4th everyone, whether you are celebrating the holiday or not!

Note:  I’m working on something new for next week.  It involves using expanded technology, so whether it will come about is somewhat questionable.  Stay tuned….

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