Let’s hear it for the women of Plano!
Started about 32 years ago by the Plano Business and Professional Women (BPW), the Plano Independence Day Parade began small, primarily as a family and community affair.
It was fun for the whole community.
Early participants were Boy and Girl Scout troops, and neighborhood associations. There were lawnmower and lawn chair brigades. The Plano BPW traditionally marched a briefcase brigade. Parents marched pulling their children in decorated wagons and other children rode their bicycles, decorated with crepe paper and American flags. A local church passed out water to participants marching along in the blistering July Texas sun. For several years parade participants and other hungry folks gathered after the parade for a chicken dinner.
“There were very few business and corporate sponsors back then,” says Sandy Tysseland of PT&G in Plano. She got involved in 1986. She relates, “At that time about 20 BPW members and volunteers organized the parade, raised money, arranged for judging and awarded trophies,” in much of the same way that the parade is organized today. It still follows the same route from Plano High School, north on Independence to the church on Spring Creek Parkway. The parade grew until the membership was no longer able to manage it and the expenses involved. By the late ‘90s the high cost of liability insurance and the need for police assistance were factors which forced the Plano BPW to discontinue sponsorship of the parade, although many of them have continued to remain involved.
The parade was almost lost.
The City of Plano ran the parade for almost two years. About six years ago, when the city decided to cancel the parade, citizens banded together and approached the city to keep their community parade alive.
That’s when two Plano residents, Henry Gentry, of Henry’s Ice Cream, and Ron Miller stepped up and volunteered to manage and reorganize the parade. “The citizens and businesses of Plano really pulled together to help revive the parade,” says Gentry. The parade association was incorporated and set up as a non-profit 501C organization. The Plano Star Courier has been involved in the parade for many years, and has been head sponsor for about five years. Last year the Plano Chamber of Commerce began its partnership with the Independence Day Parade with more businesses and corporations taking an active roll.
The parade gets better and better.
In 2003 there were about 2,000 businesses and volunteers involved in the parade, with an estimated 30,000 in attendance. They were treated to numerous floats, bands, and antique cars. Volunteers still pass out water, and yes, the scouts still march and there are even a few decorated bicycles and children being pulled along in wagons by proud moms and dads.
Through the dedication of community volunteers, involvement of the Plano Chamber of Commerce, Plano Star Courier, as well as local business sponsorship, the Plano Independence Day Parade is experiencing a revitalization in popularity and growth unforeseen several years ago. Thus the Plano Independence Day Parade will remain a part of the thriving community of Plano, Texas for many generations to come.
Lions Come to the Rescue
In 2006, the Board of Directors the Plano Chamber of Commerce made the decision that a chamber shouldn’t be organizing a parade. When no other group volunteered to organize the parade, the 43 members of the Plano Early Lions Club came forward. In 2012, the City of Plano felt that the efforts of the Lions Clubs of Plano in organizing and operating the parade required acknowledgment and the parade was renamed the Plano Lions Independence Day Parade.
Sources: Beverly Halperin, Plano Chamber of Commerce; Plano Star Courier, July 3, 2003 issue; Sandy Tysseland; and Henry Gentry. Thank you for your assistance