Saturday, July 5, 2008

Recipe For A Successful Fourth Of July Parade

As I think about this, really I'm two days late on this post. But bear with me, this is information that you can store up for your town's next major event that includes a parade.

Having two small children who enjoy watching parades, I've had to quickly learn how to strategically get the most out of them with the minimum amount of pain. I've never been a huge fan of parades and rarely watched them before the advent of the wee ones. Now we go to two parades a year -- the Fourth of July parade and a local Lions parade.

I've learned several things along the way that help to ensure a smooth experience. Take note:

1) Know what time you need to save a "good" spot for your parades. Ensure someone is there with the appropriate space saving items by that time. Preferably, send one person ahead with the remaining members of the party staying at home until the last possible moment. This minimizes down time until the parade entertainment appears.

2) Said person should ensure that they can carry all items in one trip. Making multiple trips to and from the car is not pleasant. And it could result in losing the treasured spot.

3) If you're using blankets to sit on, bring along a tarp. Place the tarp on the ground and the blankets atop the tarp. This prevents the nasty surprise of a wet bottom or soaked blanket at the end of the parade. Blankets are also a huge help when trying to save a larger space, as they take up space without making you look like a space hog.

4) Bring along something to entertain yourself while waiting for the rest of the party to appear. Personally, I prefer trying to catch up on some newspaper reading, but others may prefer a book or People. Your call on that one, really. Bringing along a drink and/or snack depending on how long you'll be sitting there is also a smart idea.

5) Don't forget the plastic bags. Strategically, you want at least one plastic bag for each child with an extra one for garbage. The garbage includes all the political pamphlets that you just couldn't say no to, along with the empty candy wrappers and water bottles that somehow appear during the parade. The other plastic bags are a convenient way to collect the items thrown during the parade, as well as being a great opportunity for your poor, adorable child to finagle an extra of some special, desired item from a particular float. Just teach your child how to hold out the bag in front of a volunteer and look really sad.

6) If you have small children, try to get a spot near the beginning of the parade. This is again less downtime before they see the parade and you have the added benefit of being able to leave before the giant smash of traffic as more and more people have viewed the end of the parade.

7) Teach your children not to poach. There is an unwritten rule that the items thrown in front of your seated area is "yours" to gather. Having mobs of children running up to grab candy from "your" area when you have small (and therefore slower) children is frustrating to the younger children. Plus, in my opinion, teaching your children respect of others and their space will benefit them in the long run.

8) Set a limit on how much candy can be eaten during the parade. Forgetting this rule can create severe problems later in the day (not that I'd know anything about this).

9) Teach children what candy they can and cannot eat. For example, Little Miss knows not to eat the gum. They both know that any Twix or Snickers thrown near them need to be given promptly to Mommy for safekeeping. Yeah, that's right. Safekeeping. Oh yeah, and if candy has broken open while skidding on the ground, don't eat it!

10) When the parade is over, clarify with adults and children who is in charge of watching each child to ensure no one wanders away. Yes, there's a whole post coming on this one....

What rules am I missing? Let's complete this list!


Jeff and Charli Lee July 5, 2008 at 10:54 PM  

A cooler full of cold waters. And healthy snacks like grapes and peanuts. We even brought a whole picnic lunch for one parade this summer while we waited.

MzEll July 5, 2008 at 11:05 PM  

This will be really helpful next year! We didn't make downtown for the parade because of rain, but I'll remember this for 2009. Telling the kids to look sad reminds me of Eloise limping down the hall like an "orphan" in Eloise at the Plaza, too funny!

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