- The Washington Times - Monday, July 4, 2011

The annual Palisades parade in a tree-lined corner of Northwest is as much a local political scene as July Fourth celebration, and this year was no exception as a scandal-plagued D.C. mayor and City Council walked amid some of the city’s most critical residents.

The parade “is an opportunity to shake hands and get the politicians on our turf,” Mike Sandifer, a roughly 20-year resident of Palisades, said Monday. “People don’t miss it. They come every year.”

Though about half of the District’s 13-member council made an appearance along MacArthur Boulevard Northwest, Rhonda Taylor, also a two-decade Palisades resident, said even more politicians attended the 2010 parade because it was an election year.

“They’re here, check the box,” she said with a shrug.

Dressed in dark denim jeans, a white “D.C. 41” T-shirt and baseball cap, Mayor Vincent C. Gray shook hands as he walked the one-mile parade route between the Georgetown Reservoir and Palisades Recreation Center, passing out red, white and blue beads as he went.

Mr. Gray, a Democrat, said he has been coming to the parade since 2003 when he was a council member representing Ward 7, in Southeast. His shirt logo referred to him and the dozens of others who got arrested in mid-April for protesting Congress meddling in District affairs, particularly how the city can spend its money.

“I think people who have gotten arrested have stepped up the energy, “Mr. Gray said, alluding to the battle for the city to get a member of Congress with full voting privileges. “We’ve got to be able to continue that.”

Council member Mary M. Cheh, a Ward 3 Democrat who represents the Palisades neighborhood and is leading a committee investigating allegations of nepotism within the Gray administration, passed out pamphlets printed with the Constitution.

Mary Tschudy said she has missed only one parade in the 40 years that she and her husband, Ted, have lived in the neighborhood.

She surmised that the strong turnout this year among public officials was because “there are just a lot of issues at stake.”

Patrick Mara, an unsuccessful Republican candidate in this April’s special election for an at-large council seat, smiled at a quiet crowd as he walked beside a sign that read “D.C. deserves better than Councilman Harry Thomas Jr.”

Mr. Thomas, a Ward 5 Democrat, is the subject of D.C. attorney general and federal investigations regarding allegations of using public funds for personal use.

A bystander observed that Mr. Mara seems to be “running for everything.”

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier got cheers and applause as she rode in the parade in a police cruiser.

Mr. Tschudy said the parade has changed over the years as the neighborhood has gone from a working class community to one with “homes that are more expensive.”

“You used to see more plumbers” and the like walking and waving in the parade. “You don’t see much more of that.”

• Meredith Somers can be reached at msomers@washingtontimes.com.

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