If you’re not going out of town for the holiday weekend, I highly recommend that you march or ride with fellow Democrats in your local Independence Day parade.
These events are fantastic outreach opportunities for campaigns and a great way for you to meet like-minded neighbors.
It’s not too late to volunteer. Just contact your county Democratic Party, or the campaign of a local candidate, or the Obama campaign office if there is one in your city. Ask where and when you should show up if you want to help out during the July 4 parades. (Keep in mind that some communities have parades on the evening of July 3.)
A few more tips to help you enjoy the parade are after the jump.
1. If you carry a sign, keep the message positive.
When you call to volunteer for the parade, ask if they will have a flag or a candidate’s sign for you to carry.
If they ask you to bring your own sign, or you prefer to make your own sign, I encourage you to say something positive, either about a specific candidate or about your own values.
I’ve gotten lots of smiles and thumbs-up in the past with a hand-made sign that quotes the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths
to be self-evident,
that all men*
are created equal…
2. If you wear a political t-shirt, keep the message positive.
I often wear a plain red or white shirt on July 4, but if you wear a t-shirt with a message, I’d make it a positive one about a candidate you like or Democrats generally.
3. Don’t take the bait if you get heckled by Republicans.
In my experience, few Republicans will bother you, but some jerk might try to get a rise out of you by mocking your candidate, or by saying, “I voted for Bush.”
I wouldn’t bother telling them your opinion of Republicans, or asking why able-bodied people like themselves aren’t serving their country in Iraq.
Instead, model good behavior for the children who will be watching the parade.
You could ignore the hecklers, but I usually smile and say something friendly like, “My dad was a Republican” or “It’s a free country” or “Happy Fourth of July!”
4. Protect yourself from the sun.
Parade routes can be two to four miles long, and you may be out in the sun for many hours, including the time you wait around for the parade to get started. If it’s a sunny day, wear sunglasses or a hat to shade your eyes.
Bring some water so you don’t get dehydrated.
Don’t forget sunscreen, including on the back of your legs, neck and shoulders. But be aware that many sunscreens are ineffective, and some contain harmful chemicals. It’s worth checking the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetic safety database so you can select a good sunscreen.
5. If your local parade is in the evening, protect yourself from mosquitoes.
6. Wear comfortable shoes if you will be walking.
I can’t emphasize this enough.
7. If you are unable to walk, make sure there will be room for you to ride.
You don’t need to walk to volunteer on July 4. You can hold signs, wave or throw candy to children while riding in the truck or car your local Democrats are using. Just let the organizers know ahead of time that you’d like to ride in a vehicle during the parade.
Please share your Independence Day tips in the comments.