The mission of the Northside Fourth of July Parade is to celebrate independence and to serve as a tool for community building. Parade organizers work to invite and involve people from all corners of the community as both participants and viewers. The parade offers a way to get to know one’s neighbors through a shared light-hearted activity. Neighbors who know one another and have laughed together are more inclined to be involved and to make their neighborhood a nicer place to live. We invite everyone to join us and help celebrate the Fourth of July!
The Northside Fourth of July Parade is sponsored by the Northside Community Council (NCC) and coordinated by the NCC’s Fourth of July Parade Committee. The mile-long parade route is the longest in Hamilton County. The parade starts at the northern boundary of Northside and travels south on Hamilton Avenue to Hoffner Park, where the celebration continues with the Fourth of July Festival.
In his recent book, Cincinnati’s Northside Neighborhood, Dann Woellert talks about the origins of the parade. In 1852, Archbishop John Baptist Purcell purchased the 11 acre tract of land that now includes the firehouse on Blue Rock, the New Chase School, and the McKie Center in what was then Cumminsville. This property was purchased by the church from Jacob Hoffner with the intention of relocating the Sisters of Charity’s orphanage from the downtown site near St. Peter in Chains. The new facility, St. Joseph Orphanage, was completed in 1854 to house 100 boys and, in 1855, began to also house girls.
The actual move was made on July 4, 1854. The women and children rode the canal boats on what is now Central Parkway and the men marched alongside under the direction of Captain Robert Moore. The procession was made up of members of the Turners, the Oddfellows organization, the Butchers association, the Bricklayers Society, and the Catholic Orphans Society.
The parade became an annual event which, combined with a festival, served as the major fundraiser to ensure the continued operation of the orphanage. This tradition continued until 1960, when St. Joseph’s Orphanage again relocated to their new location, St. Joseph Villa in Green Township.
After a six year hiatus, the parade was restarted in 1970 by a community group which called itself GAIN, for “Getting Active in Northside”. It has been an annual event every July 4th for the 40 years since then.
The parade is led by a grand marshal selected for his or her contributions to the community. Parade entries include veterans groups, bands, civic groups, antique cars, local businesses and nonprofit organizations, and community members of all ages. Creativity is celebrated and encouraged through the Creative Parade Entries Contest.
Steven Bloomfield & Ken Schon, Developers of the American Can Building
Tim Jeckering, President of Northside Community Council, Architect, Northside Visionary
The Blase Brothers, Shake-It owners, long-time promoters of Northside and Cincinnati music scene
Vicki Fleischer, community volunteer, founder and webmistress of Northside e-newsletter Bits & Pieces, and long-time member of Northsidian Ladies Auxilliary Lawnchair Brigade, and Robert Sala, Northside architectural firm owner, Northside Business Association (president 2003-2008, vice president 2000-2002), Cincinnati Northside Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (past board member)
Mary Kroner and Mary Ann Meehan, community event organizers, coordinators of Northside Fourth of July Parade 1997-2001
Shirley Copeland, long-time employee of Northside White Castle, and Worley Rodehaver, Media Associates/Metro Neighbors newspaper publisher
Rick Schaeper, Schaeper’s Pharmacy
Dorothy Kemp, Queen City Concert Band, and Earl Sickles, Mayor of Ella Street
Pearl Burr, community volunteer
Mary Jackson and Alma Voelckel, active Northside Community Council members
Rick Strahm, Cumminsville Post Office
Don Biemesche, North Side Bank and Trust, Northside Business Association
Bill Dickhaus, Ace Hardware
Charlene Dalton, Northside Community School
Maureen Wood, community developer
Chuck Harmon, major league baseball player and coach, first African-American player on Cincinnati Reds
Gwen Finegan, business district plan coordinator, community fundraiser, co-founder of Northside House Tour
Bobbie Sterne, former Mayor of Cincinnati and former Cincinnati City Council Member