The Rotary Club of Park Cities has hosted the annual Fourth of July parade – the reason many Park Cities residents call Independence Day “the best day of the year in the Park Cities” – for 20 years.
“The parade is the single big event that brings the families in both of the Park Cities together each year to celebrate our community and our nation,” said Rotarian Jill Jordan, who co-chaired the 2023 parade festivities with Alan Winn. “Residents have cherished the tradition of being in the parade or watching it long before the Rotary Club of Park Cities took over hosting the parade 20 years ago. It is the Club’s honor to give back to our community by hosting the parade while at the same time raising funds for a local charity like the North Texas Food Bank.”
Before the first joint parade between the city of University Park and town of Highland Park from Highland Park Town Hall to Goar Park in University Park in the early ‘60s, the town had a parade that ran from town hall to Highland Park Village and the city had multiple single-block parades, said Kirk Dooley, Park Cities People co-founder, parade co-chair, along with his wife, Charlotte, from 1994 to 1998, and 2013 parade grand marshal.
The Jaycees organized the parade from the early ‘60s until 1970, and over the next 48 years, a series of volunteers chaired the festivities. Bill and Mary Katherine Maddox chaired from 1970-1972, Doug and Mary Sumner from 1973-1974, Peter and Frances Chantillis from 1975-1979, Eugene and Pat Andrews in 1980, Bob and Barbara Hancock from 1981-1982, Pat and Phyllis Houston in 1983, Kit and Aileene Collins from 1984-1988, and Paul and Iris Gleiser from 1989 to 1993, Dooley said.
“When Charlotte and I chaired the event, I oversaw the parade, and Charlotte oversaw the picnic at Goar Park. There were speeches; then the crowd went home,” Dooley said of their tenure from 1994-1998. “By the time we retired, there were many tents with all sorts of free items for around 5,000 folks.”
He said the Park Cities Exchange Club, which had 20 members then, took over hosting duties for the parade in 1999 and hosted the event until the Rotary Club took it over in 2003.
“After 20 years, its members are keeping it going strong,” Dooley said.