Being showcased to your community is part of a cheerleader’s job, and there’s nothing like being a part of a parade! When the whole town or neighborhood shows up for a community event, the buzz in the air has everyone excited for a spectacular time. However, unlike cheering in front of your peers and parents at a football game or in front of judges on the mat, you’re now subject to be seen by almost everyone you know! The pressure can be a little tough to cope with as you take your place in the parade, and the excitement get also get to your head. Therefore, it’s always good to know what you should and should not do ahead of time, before the big day comes and you end up with a disappointed (or downright frustrated) cheer coach.

1. Stay in line. You might be used to your spot on the mat or on the sidelines, but now, you’re mobile! Parades are called ‘parades’ because they twist and meander all over town, so get ready to get some exercise. With moving vehicles and floats, it’s best not to get distracted because you run the chance of holding up the line–and even getting in harm’s way! You’re going to see people you know along the way, so instead of rushing over for hugs from your non-cheer besties or people you haven’t seen in a while, just smile and wave as you continue on your march.

2. Eat ahead of time. With all the exercise you’re about to log, it’s best to get a good meal in beforehand. Parades don’t pass at high speeds either, so if you’re in a medium to large-sized community parade, anticipate not being able to eat for at least three-four hours. And, that includes any set-up or breakdown of floats or equipment your coach might want to incorporate into the mix!

3. Remember your core values as a cheerleader. Every cheerleader has a unique personality, but being a cheerleader means that you have to uphold certain standards in public. A cheerleader is the epitome of courteous and considerate, and so ‘wilding out’ isn’t going to fly in front of your community. Make sure that you follow the rules you are given from your coach, that you act appropriately all throughout the event, and–most importantly–ask what you can do to help clean up after the parade comes to an end. Even if you see other people bailing, make your mark as a compassionate cheerleader by offering a helping hand.

4. Have fun. Being in the public eye, even in the most festive ways, can make a cheerleader feel pressured to perform, which can have a negative effect on your experience–and that’s not the point of being in a parade! If you feel nervous as you take your place next to your teammates, take the first few minutes to start out on the parade route to breathe, calm down, and realize that this is all about having a good time with your town. The parade might wrap around street after street, but by the time you get to the finish line, it’ll have seemed like the event flew by! Remember to make lasting memories during these kind of community gatherings, because it’s days like these that make you proud to be a cheerleader. 

What else should cheerleaders know about being in community parades? What are some of your experiences? Share your stories in the comments!