Bands, cheerleaders, politicians, kids on bikes and dogs dressed in red, white and blue will spill into the streets of Lake Highlands for the annual parade July Fourth.

Any one can participate in the Lake Highlands Exchange Club’s half-mile trek from North Highlands Bible Church to the Lake Highlands North Recreation Center.

“Everyone who shows up gets to be in it,” says parade coordinator Greg Duval. “It’s a very down-home parade.”

The decades-old tradition draws mostly neighborhood families who walk from their homes to the site. Some dress in patriotic colors and ride bikes and tricycles in the procession. Others stand among the crowds lined three- and four-deep along the street.

Organizers hope to see floats from churches, homeowners associations and civic groups. Prizes are awarded to the best bikes, trikes, floats, costumes and pets.

“We get quite a crowd,” Duval says. “It’s pretty thick with people in the carnival area.”

After the parade ends at the recreation center, several skydivers will land in the soccer field and signify the start of the accompanying carnival.

Free activities include face painting, music, a petting zoo and a bounce house. The Exchange Club will serve popcorn and soft drinks.

Parade assembly starts at 8:15 a.m. at Church Road and Highland Oaks near Lake Highlands High School. The procession begins at 9 a.m. down Church Road and lasts about 25 minutes.

At 10:30 a.m., the Park and Recreation Department opens the pool for free swimming.

“We just make it a very fun, casual time,” Duval says.

Grand marshals of the parade will be Lake Highlands students who have served in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan. An honorary grand marshal distinction will be extended to any servicemen and women who have returned to the field.

The Exchange Club is a community service organization dedicated to preventing child abuse and promoting citizenship and Americanism.

“The parade is one of the benchmarks of what we do every year,” Duval says.

Additional sponsors are RE/MAX Associates of Dallas, Reunion Title, American Title and the Dallas Park and Recreation Department.

For information, call the recreation center at 214-670-7794.