Updated: Jan 26
Since 1993, the Julian 4th of July Parade has been San Diego’s premier small-town 4th of July celebration. Volunteers work hard all year long to put together a parade theme that embraces our community culture and celebrates those who serve our country. The parade features a wide variety of entries from local organizations to local officials, bands, and so much more. Who’s ready to come to celebrate our great country?! I have put together my best tips for attending a parade in Julain from a local.
9 a.m. - The highway closes along the parade route.
10 a.m. - Pre-parade festivities begin with a flyover of historic airplanes.
10 to 11:45 a.m. - Enjoy patriotic music and historical reenactments.
11:45 a.m. - Volunteers carry a large American flag down the parade route.
12 p.m. - A second flyover will take place. Our national anthem will be sung, and immediately after, a canon will be fired to officially start the Julian 4th of July Parade!
The parade usually lasts about an hour and a half to two hours.
Immediately afterward, the annual Deep Pit BBQ starts at the Julian American Legion. It’s located two blocks off Main Street on Washington Street.
Tip 1: Claim Your Spot on Main Street
It’s become a local tradition to place your chairs along the parade route on Main Street the night before the parade. If you’re coming from afar, don’t worry—there will still be many spots to watch the parade from!
Whether you pick a seat the day of or the night before or not, there are a few things to keep in mind. First off, there are four announcer booths set up along the route near Regulars Wanted, the Old Bank building, Julian Town Hall, and near Julian Pie Co. Pick a spot according to your sound preferences.
Secondly, the 4th of July is usually a very warm day (anywhere from 90 to over 100 degrees) and most of Main Street is in full sun. There are trees that bring some natural shade to areas near Regulars Wanted, the D.G. McKinney Building, and Julian Pie Co. The majority of the 2103 to 2134 block of Main Street also has sidewalk awnings over it. However, for the most part, if you want a front-row seat in this area, you won’t be shaded. For those bringing their own shade cover, please be considerate of other viewers near you. Large umbrellas and pop-ups can easily block the views of the parade. Between Washinton and A Street is usually less crowded.
Lastly, the first few blocks of the parade route (between Cape Horn and C Street) run along the detour route. If you have little kids, I’d recommend not sitting in this area.
Tip 2: Parking is Limited
A large portion of the town’s parking will be closed off due to there being no parking allowed along the parade and detour routes. The Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church parking lot located at 2001-2099 4th St. is the best place to park. When picking a place to park, please be aware of red curbs, don’t block driveways, traffic flows, and keep in mind that in order to park off the highway, you must be completely off the pavement.
Tip 3: Arrive Early
The earlier, the better! I would recommend arriving before the road closes. I know that is very early, but at least you won’t be getting there at 7 a.m. like me to manage the parade staging! Depending on how bad the parking gets, between 9:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. is likely a more realistic time to aim for.
In-between festivities, please stop in to support our local businesses. While the town is very busy on the 4th of July, business is otherwise very slow at this time of year. Heads up: The restaurants tend to get a sudden rush of traffic towards the end of the parade.
Tip 4: Leave Your Pets at Home
Julian is becoming an increasingly popular destination to bring your dog(s) along with you. However, I highly recommend leaving them at home for the parade. As I mentioned above, the weather on a typical parade day will not be good for your dogs; it will be a long, hot day with a LOT of people and loud noises. Additionally, there are limited places for them to use the restroom. If you do bring your dog, please please bring lots of water for them, shoes to protect their feet, a leash, and dog bags.
Tip 5: Packing List
Lots of water
Bags for candy
Tip 6: Shop Local!
I know I mentioned it above, but it needs to be mentioned again: Please support our local small business throughout the day. This is a very slow time of year, and your small purchases will make a big impact.
Tip 7: Support Next Years Parade
A group of about twenty volunteers works year-round to put on this amazing event for free. It costs about $30,000 to run this event. To help keep this parade afloat (pun totally intended), please support their fundraisers throughout the year, buy a commemorative 4th of July T-shirt, and/or donate to the parade committee directly on their website.
BONUS Tip 8: Can’t make the parade?
Watch it live on the Julian WebCam!