The parade itself includes all the classic elements you'd expect to see: marching bands, dance troupes, city leaders on classic cars, horses...and more horses, emergency response vehicles, military vehicles and personnel, and floats representing local clubs, schools, businesses, and organizations. But there's always something unique or new or exciting: a zebra this year, for example, or men riding steers. The Sikh Riders have an impressive array of motorcycles. There's always an Alameda Gay Pride float. This year, there was a float dedicated simply to donuts, with a lady yelling "Celebrate the sprinkle!" Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter or FAAS always has a contingent of sweet pups wagging their tales at the crowds. And if you're hoping for a Coast Guard helicopter flyover, you probably won't be disappointed.
Kenny the Clown, a local celebrity, can usually be found on Webster before the parade, making balloon creations for kids (donations welcome). His bubble machine is quite the sensation. There are also ice cream, fruit, and snack vendors making frequent circuits of the parade route. A little candy is dispersed by passing floats, and you may collect a strand of beads or two by the end. Most of the local shops are also open so you can stop in for a drink or even breakfast or lunch.
If you're looking for a free, family-friendly event to celebrate the 4th, Alameda's parade is definitely a Bay-Area-Miss-Me-Not. If you arrive early enough to avoid traffic and find a parking spot, the event is pretty low-stress. The parade route is so long that it's usually easy to find a seat, even if you arrive late. If you are planning to drive, keep in mind that traffic on and off the island is usually a headache during events, but driving may be easiest (all bus routes are diverted for the parade, and though you can take BART to downtown Oakland, you have to take a bus onto the island). There is more parking on the West End (near Webster), and the parade arrives on Webster around 11:15. Make sure to wear a hat and sunglasses. Below are pictures from this year's parade (as you can see, I favor the horses). Enjoy!
|Bubbles from Kenny the Clown|
|Coast Guard flyover|
|Mini AC Transit Bus|
|Bowzer's Pizza (Pug Power)|
|Hi from FAAS|
Photos from previous parades: