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A Rio Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2005

A parade is a procession of people, usually organized along a street, often in costume, and often accompanied by marching bands, floats, or sometimes large balloons. Parades are held for a wide range of reasons, but are usually celebrations of some kind.

The term "parade" may also be used for multiple different subjects; for example, in the Canadian Armed Forces, "parade" is used both to describe the procession and in other informal connotations.[1]

Protest demonstrations can also take the form of a parade, but such cases are usually referred to as a march instead.


A parade in Sydney to celebrate the Federation of Australia in January 1901

The first parades date back to c. 2000 BC, only being used for religious or military purposes. The Babylonians celebrated Akitu by parading their deities and performing rituals.[2]

To celebrate the federal government's victory in the American Civil War, 145,000 Union soldiers marched in a two-day Grand Review of the Armies in Washington, D.C. They passed before the President, the Cabinet, and senior officers from May 23–24, 1865.

At the end of hostilities in Europe in 1944–45, "victory parades" were a common feature throughout the recently liberated territories. For example, on 3 September 1944, the personnel of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division marched six abreast to the music of massed regimental pipe and drum bands through the streets of Dieppe, France, to commemorate the liberation of the city from German occupation, as well as commemorate the loss of over 900 soldiers from that formation during the Dieppe Raid two years earlier.[3] On the Moscow Victory Parade of 1945 held in Moscow, Soviet Union in June 1945, the Red Army commemorated Victory in Europe with a parade and the ceremonial destruction of captured Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS standards.

Parade float

Main article: Float (parade)

A parade float for Brigham Young University in the Freedom Festival Grand Parade in Provo, Utah

The parade float got its name because the first floats were decorated barges that were towed along the canals with ropes held by parade marchers on the shore[citation needed]. Floats were occasionally propelled from within by concealed oarsmen, but the practice was abandoned because of the high incidence of drowning when the lightweight and unstable frames capsized. Strikingly, among the first uses of grounded floats — towed by horses — was a ceremony in memory of recently drowned parade oarsmen.[citation needed] Today, parade floats are traditionally pulled by motor vehicles or are powered themselves.

Parade grand marshals

Multiple grand marshals may often be designated for an iteration of the parade, and may or may not be in actual attendance due to circumstances (including death). A community grand marshal or other designations may be selected alongside a grand marshal to lead the front or other parts of the parade.

Aircraft and boats

Since the advent of such technology, it became possible for aircraft and boats to parade. A flypast is an aerial parade of anything from one to dozens of aircraft, both in commercial context at airshows and also to mark important dates, such as national days or significant anniversaries. They are particularly common in the United Kingdom, where they are often associated with Royal occasions. Similarly, for ships, there may be a sail-past of, e.g., tall ships (as was seen during Trafalgar 200) or other sailing vessels as during the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of World War II.

Longest parade

The longest parade in the world is the Hanover Schützenfest that takes place in Hanover every year during the Schützenfest. The parade is 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) long with more than 12,000 participants from all over the world, among them more than 100 bands and around 70 floats and carriages.[4]

Types of parades

2013 World Championships in Athletics Parade of Nations at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia

Examples of annual event parades

Yonkers High School, New York students preparing for the Yonkers St. Patrick's Day Parade
A Carnival parade in Donetsk, Ukraine
4th of July Parade in Chico, California, 2024

Observances marked by parades

Santa Claus at the 2021 Christmas Parade in Helsinki, Finland
A homecoming parade for Arlington State College alumni in the 1950s or early 1960s

See also


  1. ^ An evening parade in the reserve force refers to any assembly of troops for a period of instruction, drill, or office work while a first parade refers to a preliminary inspection of a vehicle before a road march. A C.O.'s Parade is an inspection by the Commanding Officer. There are also Defaulters Parades and Kit Parades.
  2. ^ "Parade History: When Did We Start Doing This All The Time?". History Daily. 12 March 2021. Retrieved 2024-03-23.
  3. ^ [1] Archived April 2, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Thousands of people march in world's longest parade". The Local Germany. 3 July 2011.