For an event so family-oriented, the idea of taking your kids to a Thanksgiving parade strikes terror into the hearts of many a parent.
It's crowded, at best the weather is chilly and at worst it's raining or sleeting, and to get a decent viewing spot, you have to get there early, which means a couple hours of bored children who are already sick of the whole thing by the time the parade starts.
Of course, watching their faces light up with excitement once the parade does start is pretty awesome, and makes the whole hassle worthwhile. Veteran parade-watchers have this down to a science, and offered these tips:
- Bring a stepladder or two; some families even lay a sturdy board between the stepladders for more high-up seating. Just be considerate of your fellow spectators by setting up your DIY viewing stands back from the sidewalk; you don't need to be right up front if you can see over everyone.
- Know the location of the nearest port-a-potty, and if that fails, have a disposable cup or an actual camping potty to let them pee in. If you've got a kid whose potty training is a bit shaky, try putting on pull-ups over their underpants just in case.
- Dress them in layers; lots and lots of layers, more than you think they'll need. It's easier to peel some off than to be standing there shivering.
- The middle of the parade route is the least crowded; head there.
- Load up your iPod with movies and TV shows they like, as well as games they can play.
- Start them off with a mini-parade if you're worried about them handling the big one. In my area, many of the "streetcar suburbs" with their own downtown shopping areas host a parade each year, and they tend to be shorter, less crowded, and generally lower-key than the big-city parades.
- Look for parking garages, stores, and office buildings along the route that might be opening to the public for the day to let people watch. They may be charging admission but it can be a small price to pay to stay warm and near a real restroom. Grandstand tickets are also available.
What are your parade-watching tips?
Image via karmakazesal/Flickr