History of the Arlington Independence Day Parade

The Arlington Independence Day Parade is the oldest and 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 more than 100 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 are 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. One senior citizen, who says she has seen every parade but one, rents her former home on Center Street 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, nonprofit organization, the Arlington 4th of July Association, that depends solely on sponsorships for funding.

Spectators and entrants share their parade experiences and photos of the entries before, during and after the parade via official parade social media pages.

The parade has a website and Facebook page and is active on Instagram.
Many spectators claim to have seen all 57 parades. Udell Bell, owner of The Bedroom Shoppe, has entered 34. The Knights of Columbus hold the record for having been in all 57.

Scroll through the timeline below to learn more about the history of the parade.


Parade Logo

Timeline of the Arlington Independence Day Parade

Organization Float in Parade
Photo from a past parade
Jeep owners group in parade
Photo from a past parade
Military man in parade
Photo from a past parade
Antique car in parade
Photo from a past parade
Organization Float in Parade
Photo from a past parade
Sikh Group in Parade
Photo from a past parade
Sikh Group in Parade
Photo from a past parade
Organization float in parade
Photo from a past parade
Cheerleaders in parade
Photo from a past parade
Shriner Cars in Parade
Photo from a past parade
Family at the Parade
  • 2023

    THEME: Freedom to Sing

  • 2022

    THEME: E Pluribus Unum, Out of Many, One
    Grand Marshal: Dick Hill

  • 2021

    THEME: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

  • 2020

    Parade was canceled due to the COVID pandemic

  • 2019

    THEME: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

  • 2018

    THEME: Happy Birthday USA
    Grand Marshals: Allan Saxe and Ruthie Brock

  • 2017 – Dedicated to Those Who Come to the Aid of Others

    THEME: 4th of July Texas Style
    Grand Marshal: Myles Garrett

  • 2016 – Dedicated to Those Who Keep Arlington Beautiful

    Grand Marshal: Molly Hollar

  • 2015 – Dedicated to the People of Arlington

    THEME: 50th Anniversary
    Grand Marshals: Past Parade Board members

  • 2014 –  Dedicated to the Arlington Historical Society

    Grand Marshals: Geraldine Mills

  • 2013 – Educators of Arlington

    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

  • 2012 – Arlington Citizens Who Have Given Their Lives For The Cause of Freedom

    Grand Marshals: Four generations of Girl Scouts

  • 2011 – To Those Who Come Together To Unite Our Country

    Grand Marshals: Allan Saxe

  • 2010 – The Youth Of America (100 Years of Boy Scouts)

    Grand Marshals: Allan Saxe

  • 2009 – Great Moments In American History
  • 2008 – Those Who Uphold Our Freedoms

    Grand Marshals: Ruthe Jackson

  • 2007 – One Nation Built By All

    Grand Marshals: Bill Kilpartick

  • 2006 – Arlington 4th of July Sponsors

    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

  • 2005 – Dedication

    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

  • 2004 – To Those Who Keep The Music Coming

    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

  • 2003 – Our Children, Our Future

    Grand Marshals: Patrick Davis, Tam Ho, Lauren Gaines, Michael Sherwin, Tenetia Carpenter, Tiera Thompson

  • 2002 – Those Who Serve America

    All branches of the service, firemen, policemen, etc.

  • 2001 – Dedicated to 50 years of friendship between Arlington and our sister city – Bad Konigshofen, Germany

    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.

  • 2000 – Dedicated to Science and Technology Contributions to the American Dream

    Grand Marshals are AISD teachers, Pattie Musselman, Charlie Hagen, Jo Matsler, Jane Borland and Trey Crumpton

  • 1999 – Dedicated to organizations which preserve America’s history and principles of democracy

    Grand Marshal: Dorothy Rencurrel, Chairman of the Arlington Landmark Preservation Committee and long time worker to preserve
    the history of Arlington

  • 1998 – Dedicated to those unsung heroes in our midst

    Grand Marshal: Tillie Burgin, Executive Director of Mission Arlington

  • 1997 – Dedicated to the religious community of Arlington

    Grand Marshal: Harold Elliott, Chaplain of the Arlington Police Department and former pastor

  • 1996 – Dedicated to UTA Alumni

    Grand Marshals: Anna Waynette Vandergriff, former first lady of Arlington; Royce West, Texas Senator; and George Campbell, Arlington City Manager

  • 1995 – Dedicated to the All-Star Game

    Grand Marshal: Governor George W. Bush

  • 1994 – Dedicated to the American Red Cross

    Grand Marshal: Charles Brosseau, Chairman-Tarrant County Red Cross

  • 1993 – Dedicated to Arlington’s Volunteers

    Grand Marshal: Jeanne Keetle (representing all of Arlington’s volunteers)

  • 1992 – Dedicated to the Banks of Arlington

    Grand Marshal: Miss Arlington

  • 1991 – Dedicated to the men and women of the military services

    Grand Marshals: The veterans of all five branches of services: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, and Air Force

  • 1990 – Dedicated to the Past Presidents of the Arlington Fourth of July Celebration | Silver Anniversary Year of the parade

    Grand Marshal: Joe McCabe, only charter member of the association who has actively worked with the group for 25 years

  • 1989 – Dedicated to the Arlington Museum of Art

    Grand Marshals: Howard and Arista Joyner (founders of the Arlington Art Museum and Arlington Art Association)

  • 1988 – Dedicated to the Arts in Arlington

    Grand Marshal Ray Lichtenwalter, Director of Arlington Band, which plays at City Hall during the parade and again at the evening program

  • 1987 – Dedicated to sponsors of the Independence Day celebration

    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

  • 1986 – Dedicated to the Lone Star State (Year of Sesquicentennial)

    Grand Marshal: Former Mayor and Congressman Tom Vandergriff, Chairman of Arlington Sesquicentennial Committee

  • 1985 – Dedicated to AISD

    Grand Marshal: Retiring Superintendent J. W. Counts

  • 1984 – Dedicated to UTA

    Grand Marshal: Dr. Wendell Nedderman, UTA President

  • 1983 – Dedicated to the Fielder Museum

    Grand Marshal: Robert Fielder

  • 1982 – Dedicated to the memory of Carolyn Snider

    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.

  • 1981 – Dedicated to the memory of Howard “Gumpy” Moore

    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.

  • 1980

    Beverly Leggitt and Dottie Lynn