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High school bands are a popular part of the annual Three Rivers Festival parade.

Going to the 3RF parade? We've got tips

The parade, which includes floats, draws thousands downtown.
Bring things for your kids to do before the parade starts.

The Three Rivers Festival parade is a longtime Fort Wayne tradition and one that draws thousands of people to line downtown streets to watch marching bands, floats and other participants for a little more than two hours.

If you are planning to check out the parade, which begins at 9:45 a.m. today, we have some do's and don'ts and tips from festival executive director Jack Hammer.

Hammer says the most important thing to note about this year's parade is the new route. It starts on Wayne Street at Rockhill Street and ends at Calhoun and Superior streets. So people who have a usual place to sit at the parade “may have to scout out a new place to watch the parade,” Hammer says.

This also includes parking, which can be problematic with so many people trying to park close to the parade route. Hammer suggests that parade-goers park at Club Soda on Superior Street, near Headwaters Park and walk to the parade route. Then, when the parade is over, they can enjoy other events taking place at Headwaters Park and their vehicle will be close by.

Some other suggestions by Hammer:

•Don't bring your pets to the parade.

•Do bring chairs and blankets and things for the kids to do before the parade begins. Also, bring drinks to stay hydrated. Hammer warns that there are some non-Three Rivers Festival vendors that try and sell drink and food along the route. But people have no idea where the drinks came from. The Three Rivers Festival sells toys along the route but not drinks.

•Do come early and mark your spot. Streets are closed for the parade beginning at 7 a.m. “It is definitely the early bird gets the worm,” Hammer says.

•Don't allow your child to sit on the sidewalk curb with their feet in the street. It could be dangerous with horses, vehicles and people in the parade.

•Do be courteous and leave room for your neighbors. Keep in mind that people still have to walk down the sidewalks, so don't block them.

And when trying to find a good spot, Hammer says that corners are usually really busy. But for him, he usually seeks out places with nice shade.

At the end of the day, Hammer says, when he sees kids lining the parade route, waving at everyone going by, “that's one of my favorite things.”

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