Get ready to be impressed as the Arlington 4th of July parade rocks the streets with one of the best parade lineups in recent memory. A titan of the parade world, the all-volunteer 4th of July Association is bringing their A-game with a flashy assortment of 130 entries for the 52nd year of the patriotic promenade set for 9 a.m. on July 4.
An expected 50,000 cheering spectators will watch and wave flags as cheerleaders and drill teams are woven between flashy floats, marching bands, walking groups, classic cars and equestrian entries.
Continuing a 51-year tradition, the Knights of Columbus in full regalia will march carrying flags representing the U.S., Texas, papal colors, and a beautiful U.S. garrison flag. Look for more flags carried by the Boys Scouts of the Cross Timbers District — they’ll have the first 28 flags of the U.S. waving proudly.
In a departure from the norm, two grand marshals will be honored at this year’s parade. Martin High School graduate Myles Garrett, the first athlete from an Arlington school to be the No. 1 NFL draft pick, will be joined by Thomas Helbling, Buergermeister of Bad Koenigshofen, Arlington’s sister city in Germany.
“Myles Garrett and Buergermeister Helbling of Arlington’s sister city are both very special individuals in Arlington’s history, and we are thrilled both are able to ride in the parade,” said 4th of July Association President Kevin Donovan.
When Vernon Rivers and his sister Natalie Bowles from Tyler appear on the route riding Honda Goldwing trikes with life-size teddy bears named Stars and Stripes, the crowd will go wild. Behind them will be decorated trailers carrying an amazing diorama in one-sixth-scale of World War II icons including military action figures, an M-5 tank, Willis Jeeps and a P-51 Mustang airplane.
“We have such a good time in parades around the country with our seasonal bears and our display that’s very unique,” Rivers said, laughingly adding that his hobby of creating the pieces of the dioramas has gotten a little out of control.
Besides Rivers’ three-wheelers, look out for those guys gliding along the parade route on only one wheel. The DFW Unicycle Club and WRUNT (We Ride Unicycles of North Texas) will show off their balancing skills as founder Roy Brewer and grandson Alex Richardson roll along on unicycles. A squad of cycles of the two-wheel variety will be manned by the famous Wheeli-ing Elvi as they perform daredevil stunts in their tribute to the “King.”
Seasoned spectators will stake out their spots along the parade route early — some set up the night before — to get a shady location or to find a position near a reviewing stand so they can hear the live commentary by announcers. Parade spokeswoman Donna Darovich said two announcer stands were added this year for a total of eight to enhance the experience of the crowd. Many streets in the area will close early, so allowing time to park and walk is wise.
Members of the Texas Live! community advisory committee will carry a banner that proudly invites Arlingtonites to “Come Work With Us” on the $250 million multivenue entertainment project. “Arlington’s Fourth of July parade is a fantastic display of community pride. We are so proud to be part of the excitement happening in America’s Dream City,” said Luwanda Jenkins, vice president of the Cordish Cos., which is managing the new project.
Where besides the Arlington parade can you see a giant margarita glass surrounded by Christmas decor? That’ll be the guys from the Arlington Margarita Society. Also, Leticia Garcia will lead the Zumba International Cristales Salon as they show off their latest Zumba moves. And representing the German market held in Arlington each holiday season, look for the Christkindl hut on wheels. Another spectator favorite will be the Moslah Car-Vettes zipping along the streets in their Carvette go-carts.
Since this year’s parade theme is “4th of July Texas Style,” the equine participants have a leg up on looking the part — after all, what is more Texan than a beautiful horse? Back for their 28th ride is the General Motors UAW riding club showing off their stately steeds. The Springtown Spurs riding club will also bring their handsome ponies to prance along the route.
From Mansfield, the well-preserved Pickle Queens will turn a few heads in their green cowgirl outfits, signature red hair and big attitudes as they celebrate Independence Day Texas style. They produce the Mansfield Pickle Parade & Palooza each March. “The Pickle Queens love the Arlington parade, and not just because it’s so close to our hometown,” said Pickle Queen Amanda Kowalski. “This patriotic parade is everything that is good about America”
The procession steps off at the corner of Mitchell Street and South West Street. on the UTA campus and winds its way through UTA’s College Park and the downtown Arlington area. Check out a detailed map, parking advice and other parade tips at www.Arlington4th.org.
After the parade, extend your patriotic experience by heading over to shady Knapp Heritage Park at 1 p.m. to see if the judges picked your parade favorites to win one of the awards handed out in several categories. A bit of rowdy cheering and thunderous applause is a good wrap-up for a morning of red, white and blue festivities.