The anticipation gets bigger for the CarmelFest parade each year. It’s an annual tradition where attendees will stake out the best parade-watching spot with chairs in place days ahead of time.
Each year, more chairs are left staking out spots by the roads earlier and earlier, said Peggy Powell, parade director for CarmelFest.
“It’s funny,” she said. “People will take police tape or ropes and save their spots. They are really excited about the parade.”
Range Line Road seems to be a popular spot for viewers to stake out space. Everyone has his or her own idea of the best viewpoint.
“I think the best spot is under a nice, shaded tree along Range Line Road,” Powell said.
Minor disagreements might occur when someone ends up sitting in someone else’s chairs. At times, chairs are moved, but that’s a rarity. Most people respect the “dibs” system, and the first-come-first-serve nature of reserving a parade view with chairs.
The parade starts at 10:30 a.m. July 4, but attendees are advised to arrive at approximately 9 a.m. The roads will be closed shortly before the parade, and crowds gather early. Viewers bring coolers and snacks and know they’ll be there for a few hours. The parade should end at approximately 12:15 p.m.
As for parking, many attendees decide to take their bicycles or walk since roads are closed, but many people arrive prior to the road closures and park in one of the city’s free lots or garages, such as the Indiana Design Center, Sophia Square or the Carmel City Center.
City Councilor Bruce Kimball said a “park ’n’ ride” for cyclists will be set up off of Gradle Drive near the Monon Trail for those attending the parade.
Dogs aren’t allowed at CarmelFest, but they are allowed to watch the parade, although Powell warns that there will be loud noises. Marching bands, drum corps and even Civil War re-enactors who shoot off guns are part of the festivities.
“Maybe keep that in mind if your dog or baby is sensitive to loud sounds,” she said. “That way you don’t have to leave and miss the parade.”
Some highlights this year include local sports mascots such as Boomer of the Indiana Pacers, Nitro of Indy Fuel Hockey and Rowdy of the Indianapolis Indians. There will be a 30-foot-tall balloon for Kermit the Frog, courtesy of Chateau Kitchens & Home Remodeling of Carmel. Last year, Chateau won Best Float for its Elmo balloon. Carmel’s School of Rock franchise is a usual highlight too, Powell said, with young people performing music. Plus, an Abraham Lincoln impersonator and his wife will be walking around as well, she said.