You can watch the nation's big parades on television, but they're much more fun when you are sitting on the curb or in the grandstand. The bands are louder, the colors brighter and the clowns funnier.

Some parades, held annually, are worth making a special trip to see. Among America's favorites:

Tournament of Roses, Pasadena: Perhaps the most beautiful of parades. Many of the floats recreate fantasy worlds; all are decorated entirely with fresh flowers. New Year's Day.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York: A great parade for the youngsters, but their parents, too, get a kick out of the giant helium-filled balloons -- Snoopy, Kermit the Frog, Superman -- marching down Broadway.

Mardi Gras, New Orleans: Not one but a series of exuberant costumed street parties with floats and marching bands. At Carnival preceding Lent.

Aquatennial Torchlight Parade, Minneapolis: A celebration of the city's many lakes and rivers, the illuminated parade begins appropriately on the Mississippi River and then heads downtown. On Wednesday of the nine-day Aquatennial Festival, which begins the third Saturday in July.

Frontier Days, Cheyenne: Four grand parades out of the Old West with cowboys, rodeo champs and their elaborately trimmed horses. In the last full week in July on the two Saturdays and Tuesday and Thursday.

Grand Floral Parade, Portland, Ore.: A highlight of the Portland Rose Festival, it features marching bands and floats laden with fresh flowers. On Saturday in the first week of June.

King Orange Jamboree Parade, Miami: Another major night parade, it dazzles with lights, lots of lights, on Biscayne Boulevard. New Year's Eve.

Christmas Parade, Disney World: Mickey Mouse is the grand marshal of one of the liveliest, most colorful parades anywhere. Storybook characters step, dance and somersault down Main Street, U.S.A. Daily during the Christmas holidays.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, New York: It's a day to wear green, maybe drink a little green beer and watch the sons and daughters of Ireland step up Fifth Avenue. March 17.

Inaugural Parade, Washington, D.C.: Chances are you're going to get cold, but if it's your presidential candidate who is being honored, you won't really mind. Floats and bands from around the country parade in review past the White House. Once every four years on Jan. 20.