Jul 2, 2023 - Things to Do

The Palisades runs a big July 4th parade with a small-town feel

The Palisades July 4th Parade

The Palisades July 4th parade 2022. Photo courtesy of Alejandro Maldonado

D.C. goes big on the Fourth of July, but it's all about hometown Washington at the 57th-annual Palisades Parade and festivities.

Why it matters: It's the summer of nostalgia, and the historic Northwest D.C. neighborhood's July 4th parade, picnic, and hoedown — all free and open to the public — channel the stuff Americana dreams are made of.

🧑‍🌾 Flashback: The nostalgic celebration nods to the neighborhood's past as 19th-century farmland flanked by the C&O Canal, and later, as a summer cottage destination for city dwellers.

  • The Palisades Community Association has put on the parade every year since 1966 — virtually in 2020 — but the 1916 organization is responsible for more than a century of July 4th festivities.
Palisades July 4th parade
The parade is an annual tradition since 1966. Photo courtesy of the Palisades Community Organization

ğŸŽ‰ What's happening: The parade starts at 11am and runs roughly 1.5 hours with dancers, floats, musicians, and beauty queens, and has included local politicians — D.C. mayors from Marion Barry to Muriel Bowser.

  • The parade is bookended by a Hoedown on the Green on July 3 (6pm-8:30pm) with live bluegrass music, free ice cream, and pie eating and baking contests in Palisades Park.
  • On July 4th, a post-parade picnic (12pm-2pm) offers free food and drinks: Masons grilling 3,000 hot dogs, Lions Club members pouring 100 gallons of lemonade and iced tea, and neighbors slicing 70 watermelons — plus bounce houses, balloon art, and a dunk tank.

🥁 Zoom in: This year's parade grand marshals are WAMU radio stars Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood.

  • They'll lead an eclectic lineup of dance troupes, skateboarding groups, Scottish bagpipers, Chinese dragons, pipe-and-drum bands, school floats, Rockland's antique truck, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Miss District of Columbia, and "whoever else decides to show up," says Palisades Parade organizer Jessica Davis.
  • "You don't have to register, it's always a very homegrown thing."
Dance troupes and beauty queens join the procession. Photo courtesy of Alejandro Maldonado

🚲 Pro tip: Public transportation is limited and roads close early. Best to walk, bike, or park in the residential neighborhoods (or by the canal).

  • Per Palisades resident Cuneyt: "Bring a lawn chair to set up on the grassy median. There are a few Capital Bikeshare docks on MacArthur. For breakfast: Black Coffee, right on the parade route. But it will get crazysauce busy fast."

What they're saying: Though July 4th is very much a Palisades project — funded in part by an annual T-shirt design contest — all of Washington is welcome.

  • "It's fun to watch people trickle in, candy is thrown, flags are thrown," says Davis. "Everything we do is intended to be enjoyed by everyone who wants to come."
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