Everybody Loves a Parade

While national holidays around D.C. and other urban areas are often celebrated on a grand scale full of pomp and circumstance, don't forget the neighborhood parade. They can be a great way for a small business to reach out to customers and have some fun.

I spent my July 4th at the Palisades neighborhood parade with my family and friends. It was an early afternoon event, a great time for me before an afternoon BBQ and a visit near the National Mall to see the fireworks.

The parade proceeds down a good swath of MacArthur Boulevard and ends in a big community picnic. It's an annual event attended by hundreds of people, politicians and businesses from the D.C. metro area.

Just about every D.C. council member was there along with D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, looking fit as he walked the route and handed out Mardi Gras-style beads. He was followed by D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, looking smart in a white and black shorts ensemble and greeted with cheers. Most of the other politicians rode along in spiffy cars.

But my kids were bored by another politician in a Porsche. And my 4-year-old daughter was perplexed when a member of a D.C. voting rights group handed her a black-and-white postcard picturing George Washington with a gag on. "Um, mom, is this for coloring?" she asked.

Luckily, we were saved by a small business. A small sedan cruised by with an enormous papier-mache fig strapped to the roof. In the grand scheme of things, it was very "home-made looking," but a great way for local store Figs Fine Foods to get some exposure.

My kids were intrigued. What was that thing? That float was shortly followed by another creative work of moving art. It was a car covered in ripped brown grocery sacks that someone had hastily magic-markered "Buy Local Produce!" to support a local food cooperative.

Every facet of the community was reflected in the parade, including a local swim team, Bolivian dancers, Free Masons, dogs in shirts, Scottish bagpipers, firefighters and firetrucks, the D.C. Different Drummers Marching Band, horse riders and the parade grand marshal -- Teddy from the Washington Nationals baseball team.

It was a fun day and we'll be back next year. Hope to see you there.

By Sharon McLoone |  July 7, 2008; 1:00 PM ET
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