Kids love going to a parade, but it you haven't taken them to one, of even if you have but it has been a long time, you should know some things that will make the experience better. If you just show up and hope for the best you might not enjoy the parade as much as you could, but if you follow these simple tips for brining kids to a parade, there's no reason you won't have a great time.
The Tips For Bringing Kids to a Parade
Plan to arrive early enough to park the car and trek to a desirable viewing site. In a small town this might mean 15 minutes early. In a city, this could mean an hour or more. Getting to your preferred spot is going to give you a lot of other options that will add to your comfort and enjoyment of the parade.
When kids are along for the ride, getting a spot on the curb is very important. It allows them to grab candy and handouts without a line of people between you and them. Only the early birds will get the best curbside spots. Since you will be there early, you might want to bring something for them to do, like a small game or bubbles.
Pick Your Spot Wisely
There are two main considerations for picking a spot when the kids are along. One is shade. If this is the middle of Summer and it's going to be hot, your kids will look like sweaty tomatoes after an hour if you don't offer them some shade. Since you made it early, you will have first pick of spots that offer the sun, shade, or mix that you want depending on the weather. In fact, if it's Spring or Fall you might want to make sure you are in the Sun to stay warm.
The other consideration is a bathroom. You want one nearby. A short walk is OK as long as the sidewalk won't be full of people, but don't make it too far. Hot Summer days mean lots of water for the kids and that means a trip to the bathroom is nearly a sure thing, especially since you're going to be there early.
Since we just brought up the heat and water, this is a must. Don't forget to bring water. Fill up your water bottles and bring them along. If you want to try to keep them cold you can freeze them the day before or load them mostly with ice so they start out cold and then melt in the Summer heat, but that may be futile if it is going to be a scorcher.
Just don't forget to hydrate the kids. They'll have plenty of sugar at the parade, so think about water over soda or juice.
Bring A Blanket And Chairs
Since you have arrived early and secured the great curbside spot, you will want a blanket to lay down at the edge of the curb so your little ones can sit down without getting dirty or being on hot pavement. A nice outdoor picnic style blanket will do nicely.
For you, some collapsible chairs are just the ticket to let you watch the parade in relative luxury and form a blockade between the kids and the people behind you to keep them in a designated area.
Bring A Wagon
This is not really for the kids, but it can be. The wagon is invaluable for carrying your stuff. Remember, you have chairs, water, and a blanket to bring along now. A wagon will make easy work of it and can also double as a chair or two for the parade.
Some people even have the wagon extension which adds another small car to the back of the wagon. That way, supplies can go in the big wagon and Jr. can go in the back.
Don't Forget The Sun
Even if you got the shady spot, bring along the sunscreen. A typical parade can last an hour or more, and because you were there early and have to walk back to the car, you could be talking about 3 hours here. That's far too long to be out in the sun without protection. A spray bottle is a great option to you can keep your hands clean.
A fun way for kids to prepare for the parade, instead of driving you crazy all morning asking if it's time to go yet, is to have them decorate a bag for themselves to use to collect candy and other items that might come their way at the parade.
You might get offered bags at the parade site, but you never know. Better to be ready. If you're in a city, it's a good idea to make sure first names stay off the bag though.
Dress For Visibility
Parades can be a bit chaotic at times when the candy is thrown. Think about dressing the kids in something that you will remember. For example, lime green or hunter orange or hot pink. That will stick out. Make a note of what your kids have on so you can keep an eye on them easily. It can be a bit stressful if there is a pack of 10 kids in white running along the street and you're not sure if they are yours.
Another great option is a cap or fun bowties in a girl's hair that are symbolic of the parade theme. These will also help to make them different from the crowd.
Establish The Rules
The parade will include candy. Set the candy rules before it starts. There are two schools of thought on this. One is to let the kids eat what they want and get it over to have less at home later. The other is to have them only eat a certain amount of things while at the parade. I subscribe to the first, but the latter might be right for you.
Also, talk about how to behave during the parade. If you don't want your kids running out into the street to a float when other kids are doing it make sure they understand that ahead of time. They will be in a situation to make a quick decision about when to dart out and, if you have not established the rules beforehand, they may make that decision in the moment that you are not looking. Set the boundaries.
Bring Your Camera
A parade is a classic thing to do with your family, and the pictures you can take with the backdrops of fire trucks, floats, the marching band, or the clowns are priceless. Take the time to snap a few pictures while you're there. You'll be glad you did.
Now all you have to do it find a nearby parade and put the 10 tips for bringing kids to a parade to work. If you do, you will have a much less stressful and enjoyable parade experience.