Thank you to everyone who wrote in with nominations of your favorite/oddest parade experiences (following up on this post). Those of you who live in the areas of these parades should go check them out, or avoid them completely, as appropriate.
"To this native Evanstonian, the strangest parade is the Phoenix St. Patrick's Day parade. How the hell can one get sunburned at a St. Patrick's day parade? And why are my toes exposed, and not numb?"
"I love the WOOGMS Parades: They're hilarious, because they’re just basically a bunch of red/white&/blue neighbors walking around the block."
"I LOVE the dog parade! I went to Sox Park for Dog Night and you're right-- it's awesome. It’s so fun. I fell in love with a ton of dogs--and it’s very smart to have the pet adoption people there. I would have walked out with one if I could have!
I grew up in NY and I thought all parades were like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I loved the giant balloons and every parade that didn't have them were a huge letdown. Pride and the Dog Parade have been my only exceptions to this general rule."
"The Fenwick Island Yacht Club Boat Parade. ‘The Club’ is a collapsed duck blind in a bay near Ocean City. ‘Yachts’ are local pontoons that parade through canals decked out in finery. There are Candyland tributes, purple balloons for a Bacchus and wineries salute and a pirate ship that launches water balloons ashore. This is my summer parade. Imagine a sloppy local Mardi Gras krewe; now add water."
And Tracy says:
“Here's my pitch for best parade - though it's not technically a parade:
The "Bay to Breakers" annual race in San Francisco. (2012 is the 101st annual!) This 12K race travels across the entire city of San Francisco, from the Bay to Ocean Beach (where Pacific waves "break"), traversing through city streets, up the Hayes street hill, through Golden Gate Park, to the edge of the Pacific. As you can guess from the fact that I'm including this in "parade" category, this is not your normal foot race. Sure, there are world class runners that actually run this thing to win it (and the prize money). But the majority of participants are in costume, either individually or in groups, and imbibing one or more substances. As you may imagine, since it's San Francisco, there's quite a bit of nudity as well. If you're middle aged, overweight, and excessively hairy, why not run 7.4 miles in the nude?
Hundreds - thousands? - of people get up early in the morning to line the streets and watch the race. Most with a thumping stereo system and a cooler full of beer. Folks at the tail end of the group may actually build a float and bring it along the race route. Most of these participants make it as far as the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park, collapsing on the grass in drunken stupor.
Why is this the best parade? Because for the price of a race entry fee, anyone can participate. Because there is no theme besides debauchery (Okay, fine, it's a 12K and some people are seriously running). Because the race starts at 7am and then for the rest of the day SF is filled with men in spandex and tutus. Because the tourists have no idea what just happened to them, but the images are burned into their retinas forever. The end.”