Tuesday, June 2, 2009


One of our favorite party traditions is our annual bike parade to celebrate Independence Day. This tradition started one year when Pumpkin was in preschool. He was so distraught that we had to miss our town's celebration that we decided to plan our own. It was such a success that we held this event each year until Pumpkin and Petunia thought that they were too "old" to play. The good news is that Peanut will be riding a bike soon, so we can pick up our annual bike parades right where we left off. I am SO excited. 

The photos used here are from our 2005 Bike Parade just because the kids are so little and cute and I love seeing photos of them as preschoolers. Of course, I was just snapping photos for memory's sake at the time so the party isn't documented perfectly, but I think you'll get a good sense of the spirit of the occasion and I'll get a chance to walk down memory lane.

The invitation for the bike parade really sets the tone for the event. We live on a small, quiet street, so we always hold the parade right at home, but a local park would be the perfect location for this celebration. I like to note on the invite that we will provide streamers and balloons and such to decorate the bikes but parents usually arrive with decorations of their own to share as well. 

This particular year, one parent brought crown templates that she cut out of card stock large enough to fit around the children's helmets! I absolutely loved this idea and we used it every year after.

Once all the children arrive, we get right to embellishing the bikes in preparation for the big parade. As you can see, the moms enjoy this part just as much as the kids! Supplies to have on hand are red, white and blue streamers and ribbons, foam letters and stars to attach to card stock license plates, mini flags, balloons, shiny star garlands and some tape. Just take care to insure that the streamers and ribbons are attached firmly to the bike and do not hang down to interfere with pedals and wheel spokes and such.

Once the bikes are all decked out, it's time for lunch!  We just spread out a few tablecloths on the lawn and have one big picnic.

Food for this event is beyond easy. I provide an assortment of star-shaped sandwiches and skewers of red, white and blue fruit kabobs (strawberries, apples, bananas and blueberries are perfect) and the other moms usually bring a few snacks to share as well.

After lunch, it's time for the main event. The bike parade! 

The children put on their decked out helmets...

Jump on their patriotically adorned bikes...

And hit the road!

But I haven't told you the best part yet.
What would a parade be without music? And not just any music. That's right, we break out the bagpipes for this event!

No, not actual bagpipes played live at the parade (although, how cool would that be?). We fire up the ipod and speakers and blast the pipes as the children ride in formation up and down the street, neighbors on their doorsteps clapping and cheering as the procession passes. (Oh how I wish I had video of the big ride that could be uploaded here. You just don't get the full fabulous effect with a photo!)

After several laps up and down the street, the bikes are parked and red, white and blue rocket pops are enjoyed by all as they pose for one final photo in front of the flag. (The same photo in the same spot was taken year after year. I now feel the urge to display all these photos together this year as part of our July 4th decorations. I'll post back with what I come up with.)

I think I'll get Peanut on her tricycle tomorrow. Maybe we can beef up the pedals so she can reach - just in time for the 4th!

Note: The top photo is a shot of some indoor decorations that we always hang just in case party guests need to go inside. An abundance of these folded stars make a big impact and are easy as pie to make. Simple instructions found here.


Amy said...

I love this idea. Isn't it amazing how kids will eat sandwiches so much better when they are in shapes?! Thanks for all of your great ideas. I just finished a big party for my girls that I posted on my blog. thuecrue.blogspot.com. Your blog gives me ideas and I love it. Thanks!

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

Aww, I love this! It' looks like so much fun. I clicked over from Tip Junkie and I'm so glad I did. You have so many amazing ideas here...off to explore the rest of your blog!

Unknown said...

This is so cute. I wish we lived in a cool neighborhood where all the kids would participate!

Sarah said...

Very cute. We had a bike parade party for my daughter's 5th birthday and it was a 'best practice'. The kids still talk about it (a year later). It's a lovely tradition.


Allyson/HBMomof2 said...

Our neighborhood does this altogether and we even have an older gentlemen that keeps time with a drum! I love that you put the kids' names on their individual "floats." You always see them at real parades, why not do it for ourselves. I am adding that to our already decorated bikes and wagons. Thanks for the great ideas!

NSMOM said...

After reading your post, my neighbor and I planned something similar for our small street. It wound up being such a great day/event. We will definitely be doing the same thing next year. THANK YOU very much for sharing such a great idea.


NSMOM, I would love to see and post photos! Email me at jcoe AT pumpkinpetuna DOT com if you'd like to share.

CupKate's Event Design said...

So cute! I'm on the hunt for cute ideas for our 4th of July celebration this year, and this rocks. These pictures are the perfect example of what childhood should be. :)

GrammaG20 said...

I know this is an older post, but I love the idea of a parade party. 4th of Juoy is my favorite holiday and I love anything and everything red, white and blue, so this really caught my eye. I featured you on my blog's Friday Friends featue. I hope you'll come on over and check it out. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful party ideas.