Plano Star-courier > News
Plano Independence Day Parade to draw crowds
By Kim Nguyen Staff writer
Mayor Phil Dyer will serve as Grand Marshal of the Plano Independence Day Parade, which will begin at 9 a.m. on July Fourth.
“It is such a great honor to be asked to serve as Grand Marshal,” he said. “I am delighted to serve.”
Dyer said he has participated in the parade many times before, riding on a trailer and an old-fashioned fire truck, when he served as councilman. He said that with so many things happening to celebrate the nation’s independence, he could not choose one event as his favorite thing about the parade.
“Of all the wonderful things that happen at the parade, I think the thing that always impresses me is the huge turnout,” he said. “Seeing so many kids and families lining up along Independence Parkway with smiles on their faces and waving little American flags is wonderful. The parade is always great fun.”
The 2.2-mile parade route will follow Independence Parkway, starting at Plano Senior High School at Park Boulevard, and proceed north. The parade will come to an end at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church at Spring Creek Parkway.
Major roadways affected will be Park Boulevard, Independence Parkway and Spring Creek Parkway. All cross streets along Independence between Park Boulevard and W. Spring Creek Parkway will be closed during the Plano Independence Parade. The roadways are expected to re-open at approximately 11 a.m.
“There have been applications for more than 60 entries and 1,000 participants,” said Ken Gleason, secretary of the Plano Early Lions Club.
Parade-goers can expect to see “a lot of great displays of patriotism” from applicants, including several local Scout groups, community organizations, the Sons of the American Revolution, the Daughters of the American Revolution, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Patriot Guard Riders and the Junior League of Plano -- just to name a few, Gleason said.
“We’ve got a pretty cool surprise entry [for parade-goers],” he said. “But I won’t tell; you’ve got to come out to the parade to see it for yourself.”
A panel of judges will evaluate each of the float entries in the categories of Best Use of Theme, Best Float, Best Musical Entry and the Grand Marshal Award. The winners will be announced and invited to the next Plano Early Lions Club meeting July 18.
The parade is also the kick-off for the annual Battle of the Badges, a blood drive competition between the Plano police and fire departments.
“We’re always excited and glad that the Plano Sunrise Rotary chooses the parade to kick off the blood drive,” Gleason said. “The fire department won last year, but really, it’s a win-win situation for everybody.”
Approximately 30,000 people attended last year’s parade. Gleason anticipates a larger crowd for Saturday’s parade, due to the slowing economy.
“We’re hoping for a large turnout as people stay close to home with the economy the way it is,” he said. “But it’s a great way to start the weekend for anyone who is planning on leaving town for the weekend.”
Though the slow economy has also decreased the number of sponsorship applications, Gleason is still grateful that the parade has received support from generous and loyal donors.
“The Plano Early Lions Club would not have been able to put it all together if it wasn’t for all the sponsors that wanted to help and donate money,” he said.
Money donated from the various sponsors helps cover the fixed cost of operating, paying for things such as barricade rental, portable restroom rental, liability insurance and the Plano Police Department providing the presence of off-duty police officers, Gleason said.
Started in 1980 by the Plano Business and Professional Women (BPW), the Plano Independence Day Parade began small, primarily as a family and community affair. Early participants were Boy and Girl Scout troops and neighborhood associations. There were lawnmower and lawn chair brigades. The Plano BPW traditionally marched a briefcase brigade. Parents marched pulling their children in decorated wagons and other children rode their bicycles, decorated with crepe paper and American flags.
The city of Plano ran the parade for almost two years. About six years ago, the city decided to cancel the parade, but citizens banded together and approached the city to keep their community parade alive.
In 2003, there were about 2,000 businesses and volunteers involved in the parade, with an estimated 30,000 Plano residents in attendance. The crowd was treated to numerous floats, bands and antique cars.
Today, volunteers still pass out water, the Scouts still walk, there are still a few decorated bicycles and children are still being pulled along in wagons by proud moms and dads.