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Want to avoid the National Mall on the Fourth? Try the Palisades Parade

Now in its 53rd year, the parade is a cherished local tradition

The American and D.C. flags
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Perhaps tanks, flyovers, and speeches aren’t your preferred way of celebrating the Fourth of July. Fortunately, if you want to evade those activities on the National Mall this year, there’s a local alternative held dear by residents: the annual Palisades Parade in Northwest. Parade-goers may even get to dunk some D.C. politicians in a dunk tank at the event’s 53rd iteration.

The parade kicks off in the tranquil neighborhood at 11 a.m., at the intersection of MacArthur Boulevard and Whitehaven Parkway NW. (The line-up starts an hour earlier.) It then follows the boulevard for roughly a mile to Edmunds Place NW, before concluding at the Palisades Recreation Center, situated at 5200 Sherier Place NW. Free food, refreshments, and music will be provided at the finish point. Registration is not required to participate in the parade.

“If your group would like to bring a vehicle, make sure you bring only ONE!” says a recent announcement from the Palisades Citizens Association, the group that organizes the event.

“Too many cars make for a BORING parade. We encourage walking. Get creative. Make a float! Make it fun and interesting!! Play music! You are permitted to throw candy or little toys as long as you throw them on to the median strip or the sidewalk. We do NOT want candy landing in the street. Bring water; it’s always hot.”

City politicians, such as the mayor, members of the D.C. Council, and advisory neighborhood commissioners, regularly march in the parade along with their supporters—as do a variety of civic groups and performers. It’s a great way to see and appreciate a local slice of the District.

The stretch of MacArthur Boulevard involved in the parade will be closed until around 12:30 p.m., according to D.C. police. Another local option: the Barracks Row Parade in Capitol Hill.