D.C. mayoral candidates Maurice T. Turner Jr. and Charlene Drew Jarvis waved to voters from the back seats of convertibles, John Ray walked down MacArthur Boulevard with his wife, Sarah, and David A. Clarke, as usual, rode his bicycle.
The occasion was the annual Palisades Fourth of July parade, perhaps the closest Washington gets to a march down Main Street, U.S.A.
Giant red fire trucks led a melange that included children on bicycles, a jazz band on the back of a pickup truck, the Safeway man handing out candy, cars bearing the names of numerous neighborhood businesses and of course -- this being an election year -- politicians of all stripes and sizes.
"There's a real community spirit," said Laurie Robinson, who works for the American Bar Association and was out watching the parade. "It's like being in a small town in North Dakota, and there's not much about D.C. that's like being in a small town."
"Give 'em hell, Jarvis!" yelled photographer Ira Wexler, as the Ward 4 council member, pitched on the back of a convertible, called out to onlookers through a megaphone.
Wexler confided that he hasn't really decided whom to vote for in the upcoming mayoral election. "I just like to yell," he said.
Like Wexler, many of the people interviewed up and down the parade route said they had yet to decide whom they would support in the fall, suggesting that Ward 3 -- which includes Palisades and other largely white, middle-class neighborhoods in upper Northwest Washington -- remains up for grabs.
The ward is one of the heaviest-voting wards in the city. Four years ago, more than 23,000 voters turned out in the general election for mayor, giving it the highest turnout of the city's eight wards.
So it was no surprise that a lot of politicians turned out for one of the biggest Ward 3 community events of the summer. They included six mayoral candidates, Democrats Clarke, Jarvis and Ray, Republican Turner, Independent Brian Moore and Libertarian Nancy Lord; Democrats Betty Ann Kane and Eleanor Holmes Norton and Republican Harry Singleton, who are competing for the District's nonvoting delegate post in Congress; and a slew of council and school board candidates.
Clarke, who was handing out stickers at the picnic at Palisades playground afterward, said he rode his bicycle in the parade because it "keeps me close to the people."
"I ride it in non-election years too," said Clarke, the D.C. Council chairman. He said he was working hard to get out his message of "competence and integrity in government."
Jarvis, who some political observers think may get the endorsement of Mayor Marion Barry, played down that possibility.
"I'm just out here getting votes," she said. "Our organization is confident that we're going to win, and we welcome all aboard."
Ray, an at-large council member, said he was concerned about the recent rhetoric by some of Barry's supporters who suggest that the mayor is the victim of a racist vendetta by the U.S. attorney and the media. "Everyone needs to cool the rhetoric down," he said. "Let's let the trial play in the courtroom, and there will be time for speeches."
For Turner, the former police chief, the day was a continuation of his strategy of "walking the beat" in every city neighborhood. "People in this ward vote, and you can't discount that," he said.
Turner said he was offering voters "moral leadership -- that's what this city needs."