American Celebration on Parade is a 40,000 square foot warehouse full of parade floats and is located in Shenandoah Caverns, Virginia. American Celebration opened in 2000 after the owner, Earl Hargrove Jr., decided to display his collection of presidential inauguration memorabilia and parade floats as a tourist attraction. Hargrove also owns a company by the same name that designs floats, window displays for stores, and designs every presidential inauguration. The red carpets lining the warehouse are from inaugurations and there are pieces from Republican National Conventions as well.
The museum serves as a display case for Hargrove’s collection. It is a mix of pieces that Hargrove Inc. has made and produced and pieces that Earl Hargrove Jr. has bought from other float manufacturers.
I was one of only a few other visitors inside that vast maze of floats. The entire building was definitely a bit spooky. The first thing you see when you enter the warehouse is am enormous jester sitting over top of the front desk. The tinsel from the ceiling catches the light and air coming from industrial fixtures and in another part of the building you might hear a mechanical whir or some music playing from a parade float, but with so few visitors every sound echoed.
The floats have held up surprisingly well. For display pieces that are designed for a few hours of use, they are crafted with precision and care and I enjoyed learning about the production of the floats. American Celebration on Parade is definitely worth a visit.
The verdict: Definitely worthy of a detour. Check out Shenandoah Caverns, The Yellow Barn, and Main Street of Yesteryear while you’re there.