Some have compared Alameda to a small swath of the Midwest dropped in the middle of the Bay Area. Nowhere is this more reflected than in its Fourth of July parade, a seemingly endless procession of marching bands, floats, politicians, art cars, Cub Scouts on bikes, church groups (including one hardcore Christian group threatening eternal damnation for nonbelievers), fez-wearing secret societies, gymnasts, dancers, martial-arts students, banjo pickers, hula dancers, and more. So much more that residents like to say half of the population participates in the parade while the other half lines the streets to watch. However you divide the crowds, it's pretty Norman Rockwellesque. Right before the paraders start their three-mile march, runners take advantage of the cleared streets along the route for a 5K footrace to benefit Alameda's Midway Shelter. Take a hint from that and the warning from the Christians: Begin at Webster Street and walk the parade route in reverse. This will give you 45 minutes of heavenly floats, dancers, and banjo pickers, instead of spending an eternity in curbside hell.