Advanced Independence Day celebrators know that the lead-up to the main event — Ashland's Fourth of July parade — is just as important as the event itself. You have to make like the locals and plan out a strategy like they do.
July 3: Take a waterproof tarp with your name scrawled across the front in Sharpie and tack it down in the spot where you want to watch the Fourth of July Parade. Make sure it won't obstruct traffic, block the sidewalk or violate any city of Ashland rules. The city requests that parade watchers wait until 6 a.m. Wednesday before placing tarps, blankets, chairs or other placeholders, and advises it will remove and dispose of those that create a safety hazard for pedestrians or vehicles. Public property includes the median on Siskiyou Boulevard and the sidewalks on Siskiyou Boulevard, East Main Street and the Plaza.
July 4, 9 a.m.: Wake up! By tonight, you will be so sick of "The Star-Spangled Banner" that you will be fully prepared to drive one of the extravagant floats that appear in Ashland's parade to Canada. But don't worry, after this you'll have 364 days to recover.
9:45 a.m.: Load up on water and snacks and make your way down through the traffic and pedestrian-clogged streets. The brave have done an early-morning 10k or two-mile run, both of which start at 7:45 at the Ashland library. Find some parking, which isn't an easy task, or, better yet, take the free shuttle. Offered by the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, the bus runs every 30 minutes from Tolman Creek Plaza at Albertsons to the downtown bus stop on Lithia Way between First and Second streets.
10:15 a.m.: Meander onto Siskiyou Boulevard and find your tarp that you used to mark your spot. Then kick back on the curb or in a lawn chair and enjoy the parade. It starts at Triangle Park, proceeds down Siskiyou Boulevard to East Main, then finishes down Water Street.
Noon: Pick up that last piece of candy that was chucked at you and start following the throng (very, very slowly) to the Lithia Park Butler Band Shell. Live music will play there from 12:30 to 4:15 p.m. On your way, you will encounter vendors selling everything from hats to slushies. Take your time with them — they stay open until 5:30.
1:30 p.m.: Hear a reading of the Gettysburg Address by Bob Jackson Miner, the Declaration of Independence by Barry Kraft and yet ANOTHER round of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Butler Band Shell.
8 p.m.: Hopefully you went home and got some rest, because the day isn't even close to over yet. Stop by the Ashland High School stadium and enjoy a performance by the American College Band.
9:30 p.m.: Make your way to your favorite fireworks viewing spot — Garfield Park and the Southern Oregon University campus below Siskiyou Boulevard are popular spots. The fireworks are launched from the SOU Athletics Field and are visible from most of Ashland starting at 10 p.m.
11 p.m.: Begin to count down the days to 2014's Fourth of July.
Amelia Covert Zeve is an Ashland High School student and freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her via email at email@example.com.