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D.C. July 4 Parades 2012: Be Patriotic, Blow Bubbles

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WASHINGTON -- Who doesn't love an Independence Day parade in 100 degree weather?

Assuming you're not answering "me" to that question, here are some area parades where you can celebrate your patriotism this July 4 -- and one where you can also help set a world record for the most people blowing bubbles at the same time.

The obvious one: The National Independence Day Parade starts at 11:45 a.m., running along the National Mall on Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th streets NW.

It's D.C.'s big event -- a massive, two-hour-long affair, with bands, floats, VIPs, military representatives and, at least this year, a whole lot of people complaining about having been without power for almost a week. To make a day of it, head to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival all day on the National Mall afterwards. Then stick around to see actor Matthew Broderick, composer John Williams and "American Idol" Phillip Phillips perform in "A Capitol Fourth" from 8-9:30 p.m. Fireworks on the National Mall are scheduled to start at dark. Make sure to drink water, eat ice cream and complain about the power outages throughout the day.

The long-running annual Palisades Parade and Picnic kicks off at 11 a.m. at the intersection of Whitehaven Parkway and MacArthur Boulevard NW. This parade will let you be not only patriotic but also to get back to the nation's founding principle of no taxation without representation: march for D.C. statehood with DC Vote. Plenty of local D.C. politicians will walk the parade route.

Culpeper, Va.'s July 4 parade starts at 4 p.m. and is open to all who want to walk. Speaking of walking -- earlier in the day, the town is hosting its Indogpendence Day dog walk, with free patriotic bandanas for pooches. See the full schedule of events here.

Great Falls, Va., has a 9 a.m. "Little Patriot" baby parade on top of its regular Independence Day parade, with prizes given out for "Young George Washington," "Little Miss Betsy Ross" and "The Star Spangled Family." A full day's events are listed here; instructions and the parade route are here.

Some July 4 celebrations in Maryland have been cancelled because of last weekend's wickedly destructive "derecho" storm. Not Towson's. People stake their spots for this parade weeks in advance. And, lucky for them, the parade will be going on as scheduled, starting at 10 a.m at Towsontowne Boulevard and Bosley Avenue. Parade organizers are trying to set a new world record at this year's parade, for the most people blowing bubbles at one time. The current record of 23,680 people was set in 1999. BYOB (bring your own bubbles).

This isn't quite a parade, but we're including it anyway, because what could be more patriotic than celebrating July 4 at Mount Vernon, George Washington's Northern Virginia estate with a reading of the Declaration of Independence, a wreath-laying at Washington's tomb, an ice cream-making demonstration and a ceremony for 100 newly naturalized citizens? The celebration will feature a daytime fireworks display, too. "An American Celebration at Mount Vernon" begins at 9:30 a.m.; the celebration is included in the regular Mount Vernon admission fee. The address: 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, Va.

Flickr photo by Elvert Barnes, used under a Creative Commons license.