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Ann Arbor Jaycees 4th of July Parade Returns for 2022

Ann Arbor Jaycees Fourth of July Parade Back for 2022…with Changes

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After months of speculation, the Jaycees have finally announced that the Ann Arbor Jaycees Fourth of July Parade will return for 2022, We love the Ann Arbor Jaycees Fourth of July Parade. It is a must for our family every year. My daughter has been in the parade every year since she was 3 except 14 & 15 with COVID cancellations. With her working later in the day, she is just going to be watching this year.


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Fourth of July Parade Route

The parade will have a new temporary route in 2022 due to construction downtown. This year’s route* is shorter and will have less staging area, so the parade may not be quite as long as in the past.

Map of parade route as described below.

The 2022 parade will start at Thayer and Washington at 10a. It heads west on Washington to Main. The parade will then head south on Main to William. It will end at Main and William.

Ann Arbor Jaycees Parade - The End

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Spectator Tips

The parade is typically LONG. The last couple of years we attended, my husband and I watched the parade near the start. From the timestamp on my photos of the first and last groups, the 2015 parade was 53 minutes long. Surprisingly the 2016 parade was only 43 minutes long – typically election year parades are longer. The 2017 parade was 41 minutes long. I expect the 2022 parade to be on the shorter side. The construction has limited their staging area.

When to Arrive

The parade starts at 10a….at the start. It will take 10-15 minutes for the parade to reach Main Street.

We suggest arriving downtown no later than 9:30a. This will give you plenty of time to park and walk to the parade route. With a shorter route this year, I expect seating to be at a premium. If you want to ensure you get your preferred seat, I suggest arriving closer to 9a.

What to Bring to Ann Arbor Fourth of July Parade

Yes, even as spectators you should come to the parade prepared. At a minimum I would bring a bag for candy/literature/goodies. If you have multiple children, separate bags may be a good idea to prevent fighting over who the goodies belong to. It may also be worth bringing a separate bag to recycle all the political handouts you’ll get that can go straight in the recycling bin when you get home – especially if you’re like me and don’t live in the city of Ann Arbor and aren’t eligible to vote for most of the candidates.

Prepare to be outside for over an hour. I suggest sun screen and water bottles at a minimum.

On Main Street, I suggest being prepared to stand, sit on the curb, or sit in restaurant chairs. In other locations, you usually have room to setup your own chair if you want.

This is a new addition – Towels! Why should you bring towels to the parade? After the parade, State St District & the Ann Arbor Fire Department will have a Firefighter’s Spray Park on Maynard again – just like in 2019. It’s the perfect way to cool down if it’s a hot day. My daughter managed to stay fairly dry as she was doing the spraying. But as you can see, there were many kids who ended up soaked.

Ann Arbor 4th of July - Firefighters Spray Park 2019 - Firefighter helps teen spray from fire hose

Summary:

  • Bag for candy/goodies
  • Sunscreen
  • Water Bottles to stay hydrated in the heat
  • Chairs (depending on where you watch)
  • Ponchos or umbrellas if the weather is threatening.
  • Towels and/or a change of clothes for the spray park


Where to Watch the Parade

In my opinion there is no one perfect place to watch the Ann Arbor Jaycees Fourth of July Parade. There are so many factors that go into selecting where to watch – shade, crowds, escapability, and candy – that the balance will be different for each person.

Escapability

If you might need to leave before the parade ends or want to meet up with a participant, you’ll need to factor the route into your seating plan. The 2022 parade route is an L instead of most of a rectangle, so there is less concern about getting trapped inside the parade route – although it is best to sit on the same side of the route as your vehicle. As parents of a participant, we like to watch from early in the parade route and then meet up with her at the end of the route. This was easier with the near rectangle than the L shape being used in 2022.

Avoid the Crowds

I expect large crowds in 2022 after 2 years with no parade and a shorter route. With the new route, it is difficult to say where the least crowds will be along the route. My best guess is that Main St will still be very crowded and crowds will congregate near the start at Washington and Thayer.

Shade

In case of hot temperatures, you may want to find shade to watch the parade. I’ve always either been in the parade or watched from State St which isn’t being used this year. The east side of Main St should offer more shade. On Washington, you will have to check conditions when you arrive.

Candy/Goodies

Many parade groups will pass out candy or other goodies. If you want candy, you are better to watch from earlier in the route. If you want to minimize the amount of candy your kids get, it is better to watch the parade closer to the end of the parade route when most groups have run out of candy.

I love this photo of my daughter handing out candy at age 3. She had to stop at each kid and personally hand them the candy. They quickly fell behind our group. They caught up once they ran out of a huge bucket of candy before Liberty Street. In later years she learned to drop the candy in groups and keep up with our group.

Ann Arbor Jaycees Fourth of July Parade - Handing Out Candy

Mobility

Are you watching the parade with someone with limited mobility? Your best bet will be to watch the parade from somewhere that you can drop them off near the parade route and then go park your car. I also suggest watching from the shade and in a less crowded area so that they have room to setup a chair.


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Participant Tips

I checked a few times and never saw signups for parade participants. We have participated with Girl Scouts in the past and I know they were contacted about participating again. My guess is with limited space, they started with past participants before accepting new entries.

Typically kids can decorate a bike and join the parade. With the limited parade route and space, there will not be a kids bike group this year.

Ann Arbor Jaycees Fourth of July Bike Decorating Contest

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What to Wear

Participants are encouraged to dress either for their organization or in Red White and Blue. My daughter used to wear a preschool t-shirt, but now she usually wears a patriotic t-shirt instead of a Girl Scouts shirt (but will add her uniform vest over it sometimes).

Ann Arbor Jaycees Fourth of July Parade

Most importantly, participants should dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. Sunscreen is also a must!


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What to Bring

Participants should bring a water bottle. Participants are permitted to hand out candy, goodies, and literature. If this is the first time you are participating, I suggest bringing double or even triple the amount of candy you think you’ll need – seriously in 2009, the candy below did not last past State St. A wagon is extremely helpful in handling water bottles and candy/goodies for your group.

Ann Arbor Fourth of July Parade - Not Enough Candy

If you are bringing candy, I have a few recommendations. We usually use a combination of lollipops, Twizzlers, Tootsie Rolls, Air Heads, hard candy, etc. We avoid chocolates which can melt and tend to have more allergen issues than some of the others.

Handing Out Candy/Goodies Tips

If you are handing out candy or other goodies at the parade, the parade rules prohibit you from throwing the items. You can drop candy near the curb which is the method that I recommend. The first year that we participated, my 3.5 year old handed candy out one by one to everyone along the route not wanting to miss anyone on her side of the street. Our big bucket of candy barely made it past State St. Additionally, the process was very slow – she and Dad ended up about 6 groups behind ours (I was in the front of our group carrying the sign).

Other Things to Bring

Don’t forget your Sunscreen. As a participant, you won’t be able to stay in the shade as spectators can.

Especially if it’s a hot day, make sure to stop at the Firefighter’s Spray Park after the parade to cool off. And maybe bring a towel or change of clothes for the ride home.


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How to Get There & Where to Park

If you live close enough, we suggest biking or walking to the parade. The Ride does not operate their standard routes on Fourth of July. They do offer the FlexRide service for $5/ride. Otherwise, you can drive. You will need to pay attention to street closures for both the parade, the Firecracker 5K, and the Firefighter’s Spray Park on Maynard at William.

Parade Route and Closures

The Ann Arbor Jaycees provided me with the following map for the route, staging areas and road closures.

The Firecracker 5K map is embedded from MapMyRun as linked from the Firecracker 5K website. Based on this route, I would expect additional closures earlier in the morning including Thompson, Maynard, William, Jefferson, and further south on State St.

Parking

Available Parking will depend on the final route.

UM Lots & Garages are free on 4th of July.

  • Thompson – Clear for Parade, Should be accessible during Firecracker 5K.
  • Thayer – Not available – Inside the Firecracker 5K loop, and in parade staging area
  • Fletcher – Not available – Inside the Firecracker 5K loop, and in parade staging area
  • Palmer Commons – Likely available Enter from Palmer Drive off Washtenaw
  • Ann & Catherine Garages – The garages on Ann & Catherine St are not a bad walk from the start of the parade. – I have parked in the Ann lot for Top of the Park.

DDA Garages:

  • Ann & Ashley – typically available
  • 1st & Washington – typically available,
  • Maynard – Likely not available – Inside the Firecracker 5K & the Firefighter’s Spray Ground will be on Maynard. Possibly accessible via Thompson after the Firecracker 5K.
  • Washington St – Likely not available as Washington is part of parade route & Firecracker 5K
  • Library Lane Garage – Possibly available, It it is, access will likely only be from Division as Fifth is closed at Liberty.
  • 4th & William – Unknown – The Jaycees map shows the road closure ending at Main and William. However, my experience says that there is usually a staging area at the end of the parade. Even if it is accessible, I don’t recommend using this garage.

Other lots:

  • Courthouse lot at 4th and Ann – Should be available
  • Lot on Ashley between William and Liberty – Should be available


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After the Parade – Firefighter’s Spray Park

The fun does not end with the parade! State Street District & the Ann Arbor Fire Department are planning a Firefighter’s Spray Park on Maynard at William. They first offered the spray park in 2019, and are bringing it back for 2022. Even as a teen, my daughter loved getting to spray the firehose. Many kids were out running in the spray – the perfect way to cool off on a hot Fourth of July!

Ann Arbor 4th of July - Firefighters Spray Park 2019 - Firefighter helps teen spray from fire hose

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1 thought on “Ann Arbor Jaycees Fourth of July Parade Back for 2022…with Changes”

  1. Thank you for.taking the time to share! Attending for the first time as a single dad with my 2-yr old twin daughters. Can’t wait!! ??

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