As families across America plan their Fourth of July activities, few things are more iconic for the day than a parade. And few parades can measure up to the spectacular procession that the Arlington 4th of July Association has been organizing for the past 48 years.
Thousands of spectators will line the 2 1/2-mile route along streets in downtown Arlington and around the UTA campus to cheer on the more than 130 entries in this year’s parade.
Creative depictions of the theme, “Made in America: Celebrating Ingenuity,” will be evident on floats and other entries. As the procession of decorated cars, marching bands, prancing horses, dancers, cheerleaders, scout troops, dogs, motorcycles and vintage cars passes in review, more than 20,000 enthusiastic onlookers will cheer it on.
Leading things off will be Grand Marshal Geraldine Mills, director of the Fielder Museum and leader of the Arlington Historical Society. The 2014 parade is dedicated to the historical society.
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Last year’s winner of the Spirit Award, Native ReVision, is back again for the second year bringing more than 40 Native American all-star football players from across the United States honoring the ingenuity of the Navajo code talkers, heroes of World War II. The Bear Claw Drum will perform Navajo honor songs on a beautiful float featuring a code talker silhouette on a huge eagle head.
Watch for a nifty customized dune buggy as part of the entry created by Prom Closet, a Euless nonprofit that operates a store that loans formal attire for special occasions to those of modest means. Owner Tanya Griebe said the entry will also feature young ladies modeling formal gowns in patriotic colors.
Rolling along the parade route on two wheels will be bicycle riders representing the Vietnamese Culture & Science Association. The organization encourages multigenerational and cross-cultural collaborations. “We foster civic participation in the mainstream and Vietnamese America” said Sydney Pham.
A sentimental favorite will be an entry honoring the memory of Al Mathews, the longtime owner of Al’s Hamburgers who died this year. Mathews’ son-in-law Gary Lawrence will be driving a stunning 1939 Ford convertible believed to be one of only five of this model still remaining. Rounding out the entry will be other cars and trucks from the Christian Classic Cruisers Club.
Everyone will be feelin’ groovy as they watch a 1978 vintage Volkswagen hippie van pass by. Sponsored by Arlington retailer Groovy Goods, the artistic vehicle will take everyone back to a time when hot pants, bell bottoms and tie-dyed shirts were the rage.
Store owner Elaine Burn said the vintage van is the store mascot. “It still runs, has been painted by who knows who with peace signs, ‘Keep on Truckin’ ’ and lots of familiar images,” she said.
“We are also bringing a musician on electric guitar playing ’60s-style rock music. And we’ll have an entourage of hula-hoopers, jugglers and street entertainers straight from our monthly drum circle at the store,” Burns added.
The parade steps off at 9 a.m. July 4 at the corner of Mitchell and Pecan streets, winds north along Pecan to UTA Boulevard and heads east to South West Street, then along Abram Street, turning on Center Street and wraps up the last length heading west on Mitchell Street.
Time Warner local access Channel 98 will broadcast the parade, or tune in at www.anointedurban.com for a radio broadcast.
Don’t leave without a souvenir of the special day. The official Arlington July Fourth parade T-shirts featuring the winning design of Cate Holliday of Lamar High School will be sold at City Hall and in the parade assembly area.
Awards for winning entries in several categories will be presented at 1 p.m. in Knapp Heritage Park, 201 W. Front St.
Light Up Arlington festival on July 3
Expand your celebration of Independence Day with an early start on July 3 at the Light Up Arlington festival from 6 to 10:30 p.m. in downtown Arlington.
“We are very excited about the eighth annual Light Up Arlington,” said Michael Debrecht from the city parks department. “Each year I hear people say it was the best fireworks they’ve ever seen, and I can’t wait to hear it again this year. With families, food, fun and fireworks, it’s one of my favorite times of the year.”
In the kids zone, youngsters can bounce and play to their heart’s content on a big collection of inflatable structures, or ride a miniature train, perhaps get their face painted or have an up-close experience with cute critters at a petting zoo.
Don’t fix dinner — instead order up a tasty meal at one of several gourmet food trucks that will be on hand along with carnival-style concessions located near the library.
The festival will feature live entertainment in two locations, the Firecracker Alley Stage near the library and the Levitt Pavilion stage.
Be sure to catch Disney’s Road Show at 6 p.m. followed by Disney superstar China McClain performing at 6:30 p.m. on the Firecracker Alley stage. The headliner is Beatles tribute band A Hard Nights Day playing at 8 p.m. with songs celebrating the Beatles’ 50th anniversary in America.
Meanwhile down at the Levitt, enjoy jazz with a big-band sound at a 7:30 p.m show by the American Jazz Composers Orchestra, a group of local musicians.
Taking the Levitt stage at 8:45 p.m. playing timeless rock music from the ’70s and ’80s will be Firefall. The popular band had a string of top 20 hits including Just Remember I Love You, You Are the Woman, Strange Way and Cinderella.
Firefall will take a break at 9:45 for a spectacular fireworks show and then resume the concert at 10 p.m.
Tip for good fireworks viewing spots: There are lots of comfortable, spacious areas in the College Park area at UTA where you can easily see the dazzling display light up the sky. And check out the top of the parking garages for a good view of the pyrotechnic show.
Parking is free at UTA. Learn more at www.LightUpArlington.com.