7 Weird, Offbeat Fourth of July Parades

iStock
iStock

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.

Celebrate the Holidays With a Harry Potter Sock Advent Calendar From Target

Target
Target

Harry Potter Advent calendars are becoming a new Christmas tradition among wizards and witches at heart. For the 2019 holiday season, LEGO is launching an Advent calendar set of Harry Potter minifigures, and Funko is releasing its own calendar themed around the Yule Ball. Now, Bustle reports that Target is getting in on the action with four new Advent calendars packed with Harry Potter-themed socks.

No matter what type of Harry Potter fan you are, there's a batch of socks for you in Target's line-up. If you're someone who gets assigned a different house every time you take a sorting hat quiz, go with the first Advent calendar. It includes socks in men sizes 6 through 12 emblazoned with the crests and colors of all four Hogwarts houses.

The other three packs feature women's socks with a somewhat random assortment of designs. You'll find footwear branded with iconic Harry Potter imagery, like Hedwig the owl, the golden Snitch, and the Hogwarts Express. Other socks bear quotes from the books and films, like "Mischief Managed" from the Marauder's Map and Hagrid's famous one-liner, "You're a wizard, Harry."

Every Harry Potter Advent calendar from Target comes with 15 pairs of socks, working out to just $1 a pair. If you'd like to start planning the holiday season early this year, you can order them today from Target.com. And to make the holidays even more magical, don't miss out on this Hogwarts castle tree topper that plays "Hedwig's Theme."

Harry Potter socks from Target.
Target

Harry Potter sock advent calendar.
Target

Harry Potter socks from Target.
Target

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When Should You Book Your Thanksgiving and Christmas Flights? Right Now!

zoff-photo/iStock via Getty Images
zoff-photo/iStock via Getty Images

For many people, paying for distressingly expensive airline tickets is just part of life when it comes to traveling for the holidays. And, while you might think you’ll get the best deal by checking fluctuating prices obsessively from today until the day before Thanksgiving, you’re probably better off booking your flights right now.

“Once you get within three or four months, the chance of something cheap popping up for Christmas or New Year’s is not very likely,” Scott Keyes, the founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, told Travel + Leisure. “Certainly don’t wait until the last week or two because prices are going to be way higher.”

This is partially because airlines devise algorithms based on last year’s ticket sales and trends, and they know many travelers will fork over some serious cash rather than decide not to go home for the holidays—and there are always plenty of people who wait until the last minute to book their flights. In fact, so you know for next year, the absolute best time to book holiday travel is actually during the summer.

Scott Mayerowitz, the executive editorial director of The Points Guy, admits that it is possible to save a little money if you’re extremely diligent about following flight prices leading up to the holidays, but he thinks your mental health is worth much more than the pittance you might (or might not) save. “The heartache and headache of constantly searching for the best airfare can drive you insane,” he told Travel + Leisure. “Your time and sanity [are] worth something.”

If you’re not willing to throw in the towel just yet, you could always track the prices for a little while, and give yourself a hard deadline for booking your flights in a few weeks. Mayerowitz says buying your seats at least six weeks in advance—or earlier—is a good rule of thumb for holiday travel. That still leaves you several weeks to periodically scroll through flight listings and get a feel for what seems like a reasonable price.

To minimize your travel anxiety even further, try to fly one one of these dates, and check out eight other tips for a stress-free holiday trip.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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