Judging Criteria and Award Categories

Grand Prize

Trophy awarded for the most patriotic entry, commercial or non-commercial. Selected from the 1st place winners in all categories.

Mayor’s Award

Non-commercial entry which best depicts the parade theme, chosen before the parade begins at the lineup area, between 8:00 – 8:45 a.m.. Winner will be placed behind the Mayor’s car in the parade lineup.

Spirit Award

Presented to the entry which best personifies a spirit of dedication, ingenuity, originality, and enthusiasm, and brings the greatest pleasure to and response from the spectators. Awarded by a panel chosen by the Board of Directors.

Director’s Award

General award for an outstanding entry in any category. Award winners will be selected by the Directors of the Arlington 4th of July Parade Association.

Ruthe Jackson Memorial Award

Ruthe Jackson was a patriotic community leader and head judge for the Arlington Independence Day Parade for over 20 years. In her honor, this award is given to the entry most patriotically decorated in red, white, and blue chosen from any category.

Award Categories

There are new categories for the 2023 parade. If your entry could fit into multiple categories, choose the one that best describes your group.


  • Vintage Vehicles
    • Entries (limited to 8 vehicles) which are more than 30 years old
  • Decorated Vehicles
    • Entries (limited to 8 vehicles) which are newer than 30 years old
  • Business Entries
    • Entries representing a commercial business
    • Examples may include restaurants, manufacturers, or repair businesses
  • Professionally Built Entries
    • Entries built professionally
  • Spiritual Groups
    • Entries representing a faith-based organization
  • Community Groups
    • Entries of groups of people with common interests
    • There is a separate category for dance and music groups
    • Examples may include Pickle Queens, Wheeling Elvi, or experimental aircraft groups
  • Service Organizations
    • Entries, typically non-profit organizations, whose focus is on improving the community
    • Examples may include Salvation Army, Red Cross, or Peace Corps
  • Drill Teams
    • Entries are limited to public and private school drill teams or competitive cheer teams
  • Cheer Teams
    • Entries are limited to public and private school cheer teams
  • Marching Bands
    • Entries are limited to public and private school marching bands
  • Dance or Music Groups
    • Entries whose common interest is dance or music
    • Examples may include alumni bands or Jazzercise clubs
  • Youth
    • Entries of groups whose members are under the age of 17
    • Examples may include Scouts, FFA clubs, or the Ulster Project
  • Mounted
    • Entries riding horses in the parade

Judging Criteria

  • Most Categories
    • Overall appearance
    • Theme
    • Crowd appeal
    • Originality and creativity
    • Music
  • Bands
    • All of the above except theme
  • Cheer/Dance Groups
    • Performance-based elements
    • Decorated support vehicles
    • Spirit
    • Crowd appeal
  • Vehicles
    • Decoration
    • Clean and ready
    • Ability to finish the parade