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Tuesday Travels: Holiday Parade

traveWelcome to Tuesday Travels, a summertime series at Traveling with Baby.  This summer, my son and I are excited about sharing some local daytrips and field trip ideas for families with little ones.  I enjoy hearing about your traveling adventures, too.  If you have an idea for Tuesday Travels, please e-mail me: drgarnecki[at]gmail[dot]com.

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parade of tractors

parade of tractors

We drove 8 hours to northeastern Pennsylvania so that Calvin could experience his first parade. Alright, so that wasn’t the only reason we traveled such a great distance, but we did experience a lovely parade in a town with population close to 2000. Chances are you live in a place that has an annual parade and city-wide celebration. Whether it’s for Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veteran’s Day or for a local produce festival, a parade is a free and fun for the whole family.

horse-drawn wagon

horse-drawn wagon

Memorial Day parade

Memorial Day parade

We arrived 30 minutes early to ensure a decent parking spot. Depending on your city population size and parade route, you may need to arrive even earlier. Many spectators brought folding chairs or blankets since there were no roadside barriers to obstruct the view. We always keep a spare blanket in our car, so we pulled it out and spread it on the grass. We also brought along an umbrella stroller just in case Calvin needed an extra comfy seat or we wanted to take a stroll afterward without having to do the toddler carry all morning.

marching band in Tunkhannock PA

marching band in Tunkhannock PA

We knew it was going to be sunny and warm, so I packed water and Calvin’s sun hat to protect his face. Parades often shell out gobs of sugary junk to anyone who looks like they’re under 12 years of age. If you’re not a fan of candy for your child (that’s 100% me) then be aware of this traditional parade gesture. Calvin had a wonderful seat with his cousins who were more than happy to make sure he wasn’t tempted to eat any of the candy handed out to him.

Multitude of firetrucks

Multitude of firetrucks

As a family, we enjoyed the relics of the parade. As a mom, I enjoyed my son gawking over the tractors, firetrucks, and muscle cars even more. He pointed and shouted “car” waved in response to the drivers, and he clapped his hands when the band finished playing. I was able to snap some fun photos of my son enjoying the parade.

Cousins enjoying the parade

Cousins enjoying the parade

Afterward, when everyone was packing up their chairs and making mad dashes to their vehicles so they could sit in gridlocked traffic for the next 20-30 minutes, we chose instead to take a casual stroll downtown to hang out in the karate studio. We were out of the sun, Calvin could run around without me having to hover or chase him, and we didn’t have to sit in our non-air-conditioned car waiting in traffic.

Prancing miniature donkey in PA

Prancing miniature donkey in PA

Some parades are probably better when viewed on the little screen. You don’t have to fight crowds or show up 5 hours early just to get IN to the theme park to view the parade.

Things to Remember:

1. Know the parade route and available parking areas in advance. Scope out shady areas to offer some sun protection.  Also, look for some of the least crowded observations spots.

2. Pack the essentials: water, blanket or folding chairs, or seat cushions if there are bleachers available.  If there’s a long wait for a long parade, pack a few light snacks such as fresh fruit to keep hungry kids (and adults) content.

3. Protect your skin and shade your eyes. Use UV protection clothing or sunscreen.  Don’t use sunscreen on children less than 6 months of age unless the product is purely from natural oils or vegetable-based.  You’re safer using a big hat and protective clothing with babies and small children.

4. Don’t forget your camera! If you’re into photos and scrapbooking or blogging, a camera is essential.

I highly recommend taking your kids to a parade, especially if it’s a local parade in a small city or town.

Your Turn

Have you taken your family to a parade?  How was your experience?  What tips would you suggest to spectators with small children?

–By Dr. Dolly
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