The 4th of July Parade is the oldest, longest running event in Arlington.
Started in 1965 by citizen Dottie Lynn and Church Women United, it was composed of primarily youth on red, white and blue-decorated bicycles, pedaling around Randol Mill Park.
It eventually became too large for the park path and has evolved into a two-mile, high-spirited, curb-to-curb ribbon of red, white and blue with 150 entries that rolls through downtown and UTA’s College Park District to the beat of patriotic music played by all six Arlington high schools and a variety of other musical entries.
Professionally-built floats as well as small entries designed and created by businesses, organizations, churches and youth groups also now part of the event that attracts some 75,000 spectators each year, many of whom pitch tents on the route the night before to assure they have a good place to view the two-hour patriotic pageant.
Many homeowners along the route have a tradition of hosting parade parties on their porches and lawns. And one senior citizen, who says she has seen every parade but one, rents her former home on Center St. but requires that its renters allow her to sit on its front porch once a year – just for the parade.
The parade is organized and staged by the all-volunteer non-profit organization, the Arlington 4th of July Association, that depends solely on sponsorships for funding.
Organizers say they have seen the technology for watching the parade make quantum leaps in the past 50 years. It is not only broadcast live on the Arlington Independent School District’s AISD-TV station but also streamed live on its website. It is also streamed live on radio stations by station announcers who broadcast their shows from the parade.
Spectators and entrants text about their parade experience and the entries before, during and after the parade and tweet information and photos via Twitter and post photos on Instagram.
The parade has a website and Facebook page and is active on Twitter and Instagram.
Many spectators claim to have seen all 50 parades. Udell Bell, owner of The Bedroom Shoppe, has entered 34. The Knights of Columbus hold the record for having been in all 50.
For more information on the parade, including a map of the route, go to its website at arlington4th.org.
Scroll through the timeline below to learn more about the history of the parade
4th of July Texas Style
Past Parade Board members
Grand Marshal: Geraldine Mills
Grand Marshals: Dr. Vistasp Karbhari, ;President of UT Arlington, Dr. Marcelo Cavazos; Superintendent of Arlington ISD, Dr. Bill Coppola; President of Tarrant County College SE Campus
Grand Marshal: Four generations of Girl Scouts
Grand Marshal: Allan Saxe
Grand Marshal: Three generations of Hellier family Eagle Scouts (Tom, Clark and Kyle)
Grand Marshal: Ruthe Jackson
Grand Marshal: Bill Kilpartick
Grand Marshals are Sponsors: Accent Awards, AE Petsche Co., AISD, City of Arlington, Comcast, Duncan Disposal, GEICO, ARBO, General Motors, KLIF, Rooms to Go, Six Flags Over Texas, Star-Telegram, UTA, Westlake Ace Hardware
The dedication is a “THANK YOU” to all those who promote a spirit of patriotism, especially those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the Flag. The “Thank You” goes to Arlington, for contributing to 40 years of successful Independence day celebrations. Included in this “Thank You” are our sponsors and parade participants, as well as the spectators. Grand Marshals: Past Parade Marshals
Grand Marshals: Arlington’s longtime proponents of music and retired AISD music directors, Jane Ellis and Dean Corey will be honored at the Fourth of July Parade this year. Dean Corey’s wife, Becky Corey, and Jane Ellis will be the parade’s Grand Marshals
Grand Marshals: Patrick Davis, Tam Ho, Lauren Gaines, Michael Sherwin, Tenetia Carpenter, Tiera Thompson
All branches of the service, firemen, policemen, etc.
Grand Marshals Theda Howell who was the one who first became a pen pal to a girl in the German city and Former Mayor Vandergriff who was the Mayor when Arlington helped this struggling city.
Grand Marshals are AISD teachers, Pattie Musselman, Charlie Hagen, Jo Matsler, Jane Borland and Trey Crumpton
Grand Marshal Dorothy Rencurrel; Chairman of the Arlington Landmark Preservation Committee and long time worker to preserve the history of Arlington
Grand Marshal Tillie Burgin; Executive Director of Mission Arlington
Grand Marshal Harold Elliott; Chaplain of the Arlington Police Department and former pastor
Grand Marshals Anna Waynette Vandergriff; former first lady of Arlington, Royce West; Texas Senator, and George Campbell; Arlington City Manager
Grand Marshal Governor George W. Bush
Grand Marshal Charles Brosseau; Chairman-Tarrant County Red Cross
Grand Marshal Jeanne Keetle (representing all of Arlington’s volunteers)
Grand Marshal Miss Arlington
Grand Marshals The veterans of all five branches of services: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, and Air Force
Grand Marshal Joe McCabe; only charter member of the association who has actively worked with the group for 25 years
Grand Marshals Howard and Arista Joyner (founders of the Arlington Art Museum and Arlington Art Association)
Grand Marshal Ray Lichtenwalter; Director: Arlington Band, which plays at City Hall during the parade and again at the evening program
Grand Marshals Dan Crowe; President of DFW Suburban Newspapers, parade sponsor, and Bailey and Jennie Ruff; owners of Arlington Hardware, evening program and fireworks Display sponsors
Grand Marshal Former Mayor, and Congressman Tom Vandergriff; Chairman of Arlington Sesquicentennial Committee
Grand Marshal Retiring Superintendent J. W. Counts
Grand Marshal Dr. Wendell Nedderman; UTA President
Grand Marshal Robert Fielder
Dedicated to the memory of Carolyn Snider; long-time city councilwoman, church and civic worker and ardent supporter of Arlington and the Independence Day celebration. Note: Empty car with signs on the sides at the front of the parade.
Dedicated to the memory of Howard “Gumpy” Moore, who served as Parade Marshal 1965-1980. Noted: an empty car with signs on the sides at the front of the parade.
Beverly Leggitt and Dottie Lynn