So you think you know what a Fourth of July parade is supposed to look like? Think again.

The little midcoast fishing village of Round Pound marches to the beat of its own drummer with an annual you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it spectacle.

This year marks the 26th for the mad-cap parade that may have started small but these days is anything but.

Absent are the high school marching bands and pageant queens. Instead, there’s a melange of free-spirited and often politically incorrect locals out to have a good time and show the upwards of 5,000 spectators who flock to the parade how to turn Independence Day on its head.

While each year is a little different from the one before it, there are some things you can always count on at the Round Pond Parade: Kids scramble for tossed candy like Tim Thomas lunges to save goals; unsuspecting parade-goers are routinely victimized by squirt guns; politicians are mocked; celebrities are lambasted.

Best of all is seeing the Tacky Tourists in action. They are an “elite” group who sport knee socks with sandals, outdated Hawaiian shirts, oversized cameras and Bermuda shorts that are pulled up entirely too high.

Most importantly, they march carrying lawn chairs, and when their ringleader blows the magic whistle, the real fun begins. A choreographed dance number ensues, during which the chairs are flapped, spun and ultimately sat in amidst the cheers and applause of spectators. Truly classic stuff.

When asked why the parade is so popular, Emily Cunningham — a hostess, server and bartender at Anchor Inn, where a well-attended barbecue takes place immediately following the event — answered without a moment’s hesitation:

“Because it’s a no-holds-barred, anything-goes type of event. You don’t really have to worry about being politically correct. You can do what you want, say what you want, and that’s the best part of the parade.”

“It’s very well known because there’s a lot of unique floats, and people like the Tacky Tourists with their chairs — that’s a classic,” said Matt Anderson, a cook at Anchor Inn.

Anderson has childhood memories of the parade.

“I actually used to be in it when my father owned a towing business,” he said. “We used to sit in the back (of a truck), and we’d throw out popsicles and shoot people with squirt guns. That was exciting.”

Anchor Inn has a float in the parade. The theme? “Who Needs the Jersey Shore When You Have the Round Pond Shore.” Expect cut-off shorts and arms that have been spray-painted orange.

Come noon on Monday, a stretch of Route 32 in Round Pond will be lined with a massive crowd of eager revelers.

Seasonal renters and old-salt locals will rub sunburned shoulders along the route, where lawn party beers are chugged and everyone waits to see what silliness is coming around the bend.

Should you entertain the notion of going, follow these tips:

Bring sunscreen, water and a lawn chair. Although the parade starts at noon, plan on getting to Round Pond no later than 11 a.m.

Parking can be found in various locations, and there are usually a few people informally directing traffic.

But again, get there early.

Beverly Foster, a long-time midcoaster who has worked at Round Pond’s King Ro Market for 11 years, said her favorite part of the parade is, well the entire parade.

“That parade is entertainment from start to finish,” she said, “and it just makes you feel good.”

Well said, Beverly. 

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

aponti@pressherald.com