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7 Weird, Offbeat Fourth of July Parades

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Eating hot dogs, wearing patriotic clothing, and watching fireworks may be the quintessential Fourth of July experience, but some Americans celebrate Independence Day in zanier, more atypical ways. From a boom box parade to a pet parade, these seven offbeat, eccentric Fourth of July parades might make you reconsider how you spend the Fourth.

1. WILI BOOM BOX PARADE // WILLIMANTIC, CONNECTICUT

For the past 30 years, Willimantic, Connecticut has hosted an annual Boom Box Parade on July 4. Why boom boxes? Well, it was a matter of necessity: In 1986, no marching bands were available to perform in a Memorial Day parade, so the town had to get creative. Willimantic resident Kathleen Clark suggested that the local radio station, WILI, play marching band music while parade participants carry boom box radios tuned to WILI. Since the town’s first boom box parade—which happened on the Fourth of July rather than Memorial Day—thousands of people have celebrated Independence Day by wearing red, white, and blue and carrying a radio tuned to WILI.

2. PEACHTREE ROAD RACE // ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Rather than watch parade participants march or stand on a float, some Atlantans spend their Fourth of July morning watching 60,000 people run a 10k race. Started in 1970, the Peachtree Road Race is the largest 10k in the world. One hundred and fifty thousand spectators camp out around different spots of the race to watch and encourage the runners. And everyone celebrates both the Fourth of July and the end of the race at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park.

3. MURRELLS INLET BOAT PARADE // MURRELLS INLET, SOUTH CAROLINA

Since 1984, residents of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina have celebrated Independence Day with a Boat Parade. Thousands of people gather to watch the boats (which are decorated with patriotic colors), eat food, and wait for the fireworks display. It costs just $5 to enter your boat in the parade, and the best-decorated boats get a prize. Due to high tide safety concerns, this year’s Fourth of July Boat Parade will be held, for the first time ever, on Saturday, July 2 instead.

4. PET PARADE // BEND, OREGON

If you’re an animal lover, you’ll probably love Bend, Oregon’s Fourth of July Pet Parade. Since the 1930s, kids and their pets have participated in this parade, which has included everything from horses, dogs, and goats to badgers, chickens, and baby coyotes. Some kids wear costumes and bring stuffed animals in lieu of a real animal, and there are water pools and shaded areas to make sure that the animals don’t overheat. More than 8000 people watch and participate in the annual Pet Parade.

5. MIDNIGHT PARADE // GATLINBURG, TENNESSEE

Because their parade begins at midnight, Gatlinburg, Tennessee boasts the “First Independence Day Parade In The Nation.” The Midnight Parade has occurred for over 40 years and despite its start time, attracts 80,000 spectators. The parade itself features marching bands and floats, and the spectators are seriously enthusiastic—some people camp out on the sidewalk the morning of July 3 to get a good spot.

6. KIDS’ PARADE // WEST SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

At the West Seattle Fourth of July Kids Parade, you won’t see big floats and bombastic marching bands. Instead, kids walk, ride scooters, or bike along the route, while parents push younger kids in strollers or wagons. Hundreds of families in West Seattle’s North Admiral neighborhood participate, and some kids decorate their bikes and wagons with red, white, and blue. After the parade, families can picnic and enter wheelbarrow and three-legged races at Hamilton Viewpoint Park.

7. WORLD’S SHORTEST PARADE // APTOS, CALIFORNIA

In Aptos, California, a town about 40 miles south of San Jose, you’ll find the World’s Shortest Parade, which spans a whopping two city blocks. Following a pancake breakfast, the 0.6-mile parade begins at 10 a.m. and features antique cars, floats under 13 feet high, bicyclists, walkers, music, and decorated trucks. After the parade, celebrators head to a Party in the Park to eat, play games, and celebrate Independence Day at Aptos Village Park.

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Ernest Hemingway’s Guide to Life, In 20 Quotes
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Though he made his living as a writer, Ernest Hemingway was just as famous for his lust for adventure. Whether he was running with the bulls in Pamplona, fishing for marlin in Bimini, throwing back rum cocktails in Havana, or hanging out with his six-toed cats in Key West, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author never did anything halfway. And he used his adventures as fodder for the unparalleled collection of novels, short stories, and nonfiction books he left behind, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea among them.

On what would be his 119th birthday—he was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899—here are 20 memorable quotes that offer a keen perspective into Hemingway’s way of life.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."

ON TRUST

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."

ON DECIDING WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

"I never had to choose a subject—my subject rather chose me."

ON TRAVEL

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."


Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. [1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTELLIGENCE AND HAPPINESS

"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."

ON TRUTH

"There's no one thing that is true. They're all true."

ON THE DOWNSIDE OF PEOPLE

"The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."

ON SUFFERING FOR YOUR ART

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

ON TAKING ACTION

"Never mistake motion for action."

ON GETTING WORDS OUT

"I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast—talk them or write them down."


Photograph by Mary Hemingway, in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP

"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"

ON FINDING STRENGTH 

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

ON THE TRUE NATURE OF WICKEDNESS

"All things truly wicked start from innocence."

ON WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

ON THE DEFINITION OF COURAGE

"Courage is grace under pressure."

ON THE PAINFULNESS OF BEING FUNNY

"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."


By Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. - JFK Library, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON KEEPING PROMISES

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

ON GOOD VS. EVIL

"About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."

ON REACHING FOR THE UNATTAINABLE

"For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

ON HAPPY ENDINGS

"There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."

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