Few things in the American experience are held so dear by so many as the parade. From the smallest rural towns to the heart of New York City, Americans have long held celebrations by parade.
Reasons for parades are as varied as the communities in which they take place. Perhaps the most widely celebrated type of parade is the Independence Day or July 4 parade. New York has its St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Left Coast has its parades of bacchanalia and pride. America’s heartland gathers for high school homecomings, Memorial Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving and special-themed parades such as the old Circus World parade in Milwaukee.
High school and college marching bands are a frequent source of parade entertainment. Other favorite parade participants include brigades of toddlers on tricycles, doll buggies pushed by little girls and the myriad parade floats and displays honoring the nation’s military.
Parades have long been used as a way to project military might, such as the goose-stepping Nazis of Germany or the show of ballistic missiles in Communist Russia. In America, ticker-tape parades became a favorite way to welcome home troops and war heroes such as Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Admiral Chester Nimitz. The original ticker-tape parade was held in New York to celebrate dedication of the Statue of Liberty. A memorable parade in summer 1969 honored the Apollo 11 astronauts.
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