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Lake Highlands Exchange Club members have done some impressive things over the years, but they couldn’t vanquish a pandemic and had to cancel the 2020 Fourth of July parade. This year, though, neighbors are ready to kick up their flip flops and celebrate. There’s only one hitch. The parade won’t be held on the 4th.

Sunday is sacred in Lake Highlands, Texas, so organizers will host the parade and carnival on Saturday the 3rd. Participants will line up at 8:30 a.m., and the parade will step off at 9 a.m. sharp. The carnival runs until noon.

Over my 13 years covering the parade for Advocate Magazine – and the many more I attended with family – I’ve heard a variety of origin stories for the event. Jennifer Baker says she and her sister started the parade in 1981 with four other kids and a dog.  They decorated their bikes – a tradition that continues 40 years later – and rode from their home at 9611 Woodmen Circle to the recreation center, then called Skyline.

“In 2001, long after moving away,” recalls Baker, “I was invited to return to participate as grand marshal in the 20-year anniversary of the parade, along with the other original kids, all of us nearly 30 years old at the time. I was astonished that our little caravan of bikes and wagons had grown into a gigantic community event, with marching bands and sky divers, a carnival and more.”

Others say the parade is at least a decade older.

“It started in front of our house at 9721 Robin Hill Circle and looped around Estate Lane and back,” says Danny Meyer, who recalls gathering with his parents, Jeanne and Charlie, in 1966 or 1967. “The Grand Marshal was my grandfather, William Hickey, a WWI veteran in his 70’s who walked the entire route carrying the American flag. It started small and grew until we had the Lake Highlands High School Marching Band, horses and a Vietnam POW as judge just a few months after he had returned. His name was Jerry Singleton. The judges’ stand was the back ramp of our Pontiac station wagon.”

The modern parade features about 350 participants, including children on decorated bikes and tricycles, businesses with floats and Dallas Fire Rescue trucks. The route begins at North Highlands Bible Church and proceeds along Church Road in front of the high school toward the Lake Highlands North Recreation Center. The carnival is free, with face painters, bounce houses, food options and neighborhood fellowship. See you there!