Cited by USA Today in 2008 as one of the Top Ten places to be in the country for Independence Day (just behind Washington, D.C.) In fact, the entire Racine community -- some years topping 100,000 spectators of the parade alone! -- is abuzz with Independence Day activities throughout the day. A wide range of parade entries will include living statues, bands, floats, entertainers, and more will stroll through the streets of Downtown Racine starting at the intersection of Goold and Main Streets and runs south down Main Street through Downtown, and onto 14th Street.

If you’ve never been to the annual spectacle that is the 4th Fest Parade in Racine, you're in for a treat! Here are some pointers to help make your experience more enjoyable, courtesy of Racine's 4th Fest:

Find a Curbside Seat

Seats 4th Fest

And do so early. But not too early. The days of all-night campouts are gone. The earliest you can stake your claim is 5 a.m. Park your car on a nearby side street or, better still, pile the kids on your shoulders and walk to Main Street.

Dress for Parade Success

4th Fest Shorts

Bring sunglasses, sunscreen, a blanket and/or lawn chairs, flags, and a cooler, but leave the fireworks and Silly String at home (more on that later). Wear the most outlandishly patriotic garb you’ve got. Where else are you going to wear that shirt and get away with it? Main St. closes to all traffic to the north (Goold St. to Main St. bridge) at 7 a.m., and to traffic on the south (Main St. bridge to 14th St.) at 7:30 a.m.

Prepare your Ears for Some Noise

CNH 4th Fest


Suffice to say that the pre-parade features all the noisy entries: police cars, fire engines, military vehicles, classic cars, Case tractors, earth-moving equipment, etc. Our law-enforcement and emergency-service friends from Sturtevant, Mount Pleasant, Caledonia, and other municipalities join us during this first leg of the parade. The pre-parade starts at 8:30 from Goold and Main streets on Racine’s north side. The first units will probably hit the halfway point (Monument Square) by 8:45 and the parade’s end (Golden Rondelle on 14th Street) by 9:00.

Cheer on the Fan Favorites

Fourth Fest

While every spectator has their favorite, here are a half-dozen must-sees in the 100+-unit march: the Agerholm-Gross Det. #346 Marine Corps League's Iwo Jima float; the Racine Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps; Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 767; American Legion Post 310 Bronze Float; Racine Fourth Fest Calliope (pronounced "kal-ee-OPE," if you’re a true parade fan) and the Racine Kilties. Don’t get us wrong: All the units in-between are great, too, and represent thousands of hours of precision marching, music rehearsal, float building and such.

Show your gratitude. Many units have come from around the region, some from around the country. Show your appreciation. Welcome our honorary parade marshal and stand for our veterans! 

Don’t Forget to Cheer for the Award-Winning Floats and Bands

4th Fest Crowd

Each award-winning float will be preceded by a banner announcing its win. Floats are judged on six criteria: design (arrangement of detail), expression, proportion, artistic appeal, color harmony, and originality. Floats are judged before the parade in two divisions: industrial and nonindustrial. Drum & bugle corps and marching bands are judged during the parade and awards are presented afterward. In almost all cases, floats have been built by employees, church members, 4-H’ers, and other amateurs who spend countless hours working for your parade day appreciation. Let them know how much you approve of their efforts as their masterpieces drive by.

Be safe.

4th Fest Street

Three things to remember: (1) no silly string or any other celebratory gook that makes a mess of antique-car paint-jobs, band uniforms, and/or the street; (2) no “poppers” or other fireworks (if may scare horses in the parade); and (3) no needless crossing in front of parade units (like floats) that may need to brake suddenly to avoid making you a permanent part of their entry, thereby endangering those on the float and others around you who would much prefer to see a smooth-flowing, gapless, injury-free parade. And don’t forget the sunscreen!

Donate to say "Thanks!"

When the 4th Fest Barrels go by, please consider making a donation to help defray the costs of putting on the parade and fireworks.


To learn more about the 4th Fest Racine, visit


Photo Source: Racine Journal Times