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On Independence Day, Celebrate Your Patriotism At These Parades

There's no better way to show off your patriotic fervor than parading around town.
There's no better way to show off your patriotic fervor than parading around town.

Today is Independence Day, and along with barbecues and fireworks, there's little more patriotic than parades. The region has a fair share of July 4 parades, and they range from small to big and traditional to quirky. We asked our listeners and readers to chime in with some of their favorites, and this is what they had to offer. Did we miss any? Leave them in the comments, and tell us what makes your local parade the best.

Palisades Parade & Picnic: Now in its 48th year, the parade along MacArthur Boulevard in the Palisades is as close to a hometown Fourth of July tradition as D.C. can get. Families line the parade route early for a front seat to the hundreds of groups — from firefighters to Bolivian dance troupes — that march from Whitehaven Parkway to the Palisades Recreation Center, many throwing candy as they go. And this being an election year, just about anyone running for office in D.C. will be on hand to press the flesh and hand out campaign tchotchkes. There's even a free picnic at the end of the parade, featuring hot dogs, watermelon, drinks, live music and moon bounces. Says Tom Sherwood, an NBC 4 reporter and political analyst on WAMU 88.5's The Politics Hour: "Biggest little hometown parade you'll ever find in mostly too-stuffy, official Washington, D.C." 11 a.m.

Takoma Park Parade: Takoma Park can be described as a quirky sort of place, and according to fans of its long-running Independence Day celebrations, its parade readily reflects that. "I love how all the beautiful, quirky [and] diverse friendly people of Takoma Park participate. City leaders, residents, everyone," explains Sally, who nominated the parade in response to our Twitter query. The parade kicks off at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Carroll and Ethan Allen avenues.

Kensington Bike Parade: A bike parade? Yes, a bike parade, and the small Maryland town of Kensington has been hosting one for close to two decades. Katie Schmidt McMurry, who tipped us off to the parade on our Facebook page, had this to say: "Not so much a parade as an excuse to decorate your bike, follow a fire truck around the neighborhood for a few blocks, then come back to the park for popsicles." 9:45 a.m. in St. Paul Park.

Barcroft Neighborhood Parade: On our Facebook page, Arlington resident Alex Bramsen had this to say about the Barcroft parade: "It's a long tradition and important to the community, with participation from FDAC and ACPD, the Boy and Girl Scout troops, and community 'floats' and segments by the school band and neighbors. It's followed by a community picnic. It's small town America in a suburban neighborhood." The parade starts at 10 a.m. at 800 S. Buchanan Street. There are a number of other Arlington neighborhood parades, too: Albemarle Street (9 a.m.), Bellevue Forest (9 a.m.), Douglas Park (10:30 a.m.), Dover Crystal and Riverwood (10 a.m.), Fairlington Village (10 a.m.), and Lyon Village (11 a.m.).

Barracks Row: If you want "a slice of the real Capitol Hill," says Facebook commenter Kristen Hartke, head down to Eighth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE at 10 a.m. for the Barracks Row parade. It may be smaller and younger than its counterpart across town in the Palisades, but the parade attracts families to the revitalized stretch just south of Eastern Market.

Fairfax: The Fairfax parade not only meanders through the city's historic district, but is followed by the much-beloved Old-Fashioned Fireman's Day, where local squads of firefighters square off in a number of competitions, including Battle of the Barrel and Lay-a-Line. Don't know what those are? Show up and find out. "Nothing beats the charm of the City of Fairfax July 4 parade," says Rob Yingling on Twitter. Parade at 10 a.m., Fireman's Day at 12:30 p.m.

National Independence Day Parade: This is Washington, so there's bound to be one official parade. The National Independence Day Parade runs down Constitution Avenue from Seventh to 17th streets NW, and includes floats and bands from across the country. And if you're down there for the parade, take in the Smithsonian's Folklife Festival too. 11:45 a.m.

Other Suggestions From WAMU 88.5 Listeners:

  • Virginia Cross: "Ashland, Virginia. A bit of a drive, but Amtrak takes you directly to the downtown. What better way to celebrate the 4th than with a lawn chair brigade?"
  • Oona Stieglitz: "Cabin John, Maryland. The whole town parades. A vintage car. Someone pulls a red wagon with a boom box playing "the Stars and Stripes forever" (which debuted at the Cabin John Hotel). Then we converge on a little park for watermelon, donuts and a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Did I mention the hula hoop contest? What could be less stuffy?"
  • Catherine Falknor: "Lewes, Delaware has the best 4th of July parade and festival! Everything is human scale, and the children's games are charmingly old-fashioned."

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