Tips for Democrats volunteering in July 4 parades (w/poll)

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…

*and women!

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.

Even people who agree with you are probably not going to want to see Bush Lied People Died or Don’t blame me–I voted for Edwards during a holiday parade.

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.

But I suggest using a repellent without DEET.

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.

  • Harkin will be in parades

    in West Des Moines (7/3) and Clear Lake (7/4).  His campaign invites us to walk with him and show our support.  See tomharkin.com.

    I’ll be in Clear Lake.  

  • Becky Greenwald

    Will be in Emmetsburg on the 5th for Palo Alto County 150 year celebration. We need people to walk with her. If anyone lives near, feel free to come. It starts at 10AM.

  • Great tips!

    They don’t seem to do Fourth of July parades in places I’ve lived, but I have been in more than one Homecoming parade.

    One other point:

    You don’t necessarily have to march in the parade to be a big part of it. Parade groups are always, always, always looking for help pre-parade. Floats and cars need decorated, signs need put together, people need stickers and drinks, and on and on and on. Show up a few hours before parade time with a little baling twine, scissors or duct tape and you’ll be everyone’s best friend.

    Also, parades need excited people on the sidelines too. If you  can’t/ don’t wish to march in the parade, you can still help by going to the parade and whistling, clapping, hooting and hollering when Democrat candidates and/or the party float comes by. Trust me, it makes a big impression on people! 🙂

  • We are being inclusive.

    We want to showcase our candidates and have given this some thought. Even though we know that Hillary is the presumptive candidate and feel that Bernie should have conceded by now, we are going to include him on our parade entry. The theme of the Pleasantville parade is “family, freedom, and fun.” Bernie will be included in our “Family of Democrats–working for us.” We can’t be responsible for Bernie’s supporters, but we are attempting to put our best foot forward.and hope that we can all officially be on the same page soon.

  • Coralville

    For IDP. I want to stay unity but all my political shirts are for Hillary and I don’t want to buy 4 family shirts just for this parade. We’ll try to just wear blue.

    Also I think it’s a sign you might be into local politics of:
    Summer is endless parade time and you’re seriously thinking about your parade etiquette.

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