A good neighborhood parade has music, costumes, candy, and vehicles, but you don't have to blow your budget to throw one. Follow our eight steps to organize a fun and festive Fourth of July parade that's inexpensive and stress free.
Whether you're organizing a neighborhood-wide Fourth of July parade or involving just a few friends, these fun and patriotic ideas will help you get started.
Step 1: Designate the route of your neighborhood parade.
Decide on a location in your neighborhood for your Fourth of July parade. For smaller parades, an alley, driveway, yard, or stretch of sidewalk would work well. For larger parades involving bikes and trucks, you may need to contact your city council to get permission to block off a street. Mark the starting and ending place of your parade using banners or flags. Have a back-up plan in case of bad weather: a garage or gymnasium are great alternatives.
Step 2: Send invites for your Fourth of July parade.
You can't have a parade without guests and participants! Invite the neighborhood to join your Fourth of July festivities, and spread the word to family and friends as well. Let the attendants know what to bring or how to help ahead of time. Remind your guests to dress in red, white, and blue and to bring lawn chairs to sit in for relaxed viewing. Hand out flags, leis, or hats as party favors.
Step 3: Decorate a star-spangled float.
For a large parade, put together a float using a truck and flatbed. Stuff red, white, and blue tissue paper into the holes of a rectangular piece of chicken wire fencing in the shape of the American flag. Attach the flag to the back of the trailer using wire, or staple the piece to a plywood frame. Hang streamers along the edges of the flatbed, and add hay bales for seating. Have the riders of the float wave flags and throw out candy.
Help the kids make a banner, sign, or flag to hang on the flatbed or to hold while marching in the Fourth of July parade. Decorate a large piece of plywood or poster board with paint, stickers, markers, and glitter. Make a patriotic design, or design your poster in support of a neighborhood baseball team or club.
Step 4: Decorate scooters and bikes.
Invite the neighborhood kids to decorate their scooters, bicycles, or wagons for the parade. Provide streamers, balloons, ribbons, and bells, or instruct them to arrive predecorated. Award the participants with the most creative or patriotic "vehicle."
Step 5: Include a marching band.
Organize a mini marching band with toy or homemade instruments. Make a drum from an oatmeal container, a tambourine from paper plates and jingle bells, a guitar from a shoebox and rubber bands, and horns with paper towel rolls. Add streamers of triangles of felt to 12-inch dowels to make batons for a few kids to twirl. Teach the little musicians to march heel to toe, and make sure to take lots of pictures.
Step 6: Involve the pets.
Get the neighborhood pets involved: Invite guests to bring their furry friends to the Fourth of July parade. Tie bandanas around the pets' necks, and have their owners walk them along the parade path.
Step 7: Organize a July 4th potluck
Ask guests to bring an appetizer or dessert to share for after the Fourth of July parade, or prepare a small table of simple refreshments, such as water, lemonade, iced tea, and cookies. Set the table in the spirit of the Fourth with a red, white, and blue tablecloth, streamers, and flag centerpieces.
Step 8: Sit back and enjoy.
Last, but not least, remember to sit back and enjoy your neighborhood Fourth of July parade, and most importantly, honor Independence Day with friends and family.