Everyone talks about how short it is, but the Freedom Fest parade shouldn’t be measured in length.
Every year, on July 4, the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce organizes what might possibly be the shortest parade in the United States. Stretching only about a quarter-mile, the parade still encompasses everything a patriotic parade should — a lot of tradition.
For the past 14 years, the parade has brought a classic small-town celebration to Bicentennial Park for Independence Day.
This year will be no different.
The morning will begin with the parade, which will include Longboat Key fire trucks and police cars and a big boat from Cannons Marina.
Town commissioners and the grand marshal, who will be named soon, will also walk in the parade. Families are welcome to walk with decorated bikes, cars, scooters, wagons and even pets.
After the parade, everyone is invited to a celebration at Bicentennial Park. There, kids can revel in games, face-painting and balloon and sand art.
When they’re done playing games, they can fill up on Belgian waffles with strawberries and whipped cream from the Blue Dolphin Café. The Longboat Key Garden Club will organize a butterfly release to add to the festivities.
“My favorite is watching the kids when the parade is over, running to the park and you can see the look on their faces,” Chamber President Gail Loefgren said. “They can hardly wait to play games and do the butterfly release.”
In addition, the Rotary Club of Longboat Key will once again sponsor the Hot Diggity Dog! Parade and Contest. The contest is open to all festive pups and their owners.
Carol Erker, past president of the Rotary Club, said the group initially started the Hot Diggity Dog Contest to build interest in the development of an off-leash dog park at Bayfront Park. That park will officially open soon.
The club will award prizes to the most patriotic dog, the most creative costume and the best owner and dog combination.