On Tuesday I got to participate in the second best 4th of July parade ever. The best was in 1976 in my hometown of Lexington, Ohio which was very fun and patriotic. The one in Friday Harbor on Tuesday was second to that, but not by much.
The Friday Harbor 4th of July Parade is famous in these parts. People come from all over to see it. There were easily 1,000 people in the parade and another 8,000 watching it. Considering there are only 6,000 residents of San Juan Island, quite a few extra folks came. John and Jackie picked out a place to stand early and had a pretty good view of the parade.
Tom and I marched with the San Juan Island National Historical Park group. We wore our 1860’s dresses and uniforms. The sergeant who gave us orders to march is a retired army drill sergeant and he had the voice for it. The men looked pretty nifty in their American and British uniforms. Val, Beth, and I carried the banner at the front, and the other women in their hoops and fancy dresses came behind.
There were three things that particularly impressed me about the Friday Harbor 4th of July Parade. First, the people along the parade route cheered every single group that passed by. Their enthusiasm made us stand taller, smile bigger, and wave more.
Second, the community nursing home was an important turn on the parade route. Every group, float, or vehicle turned left into their parking lot and made a turn past the elders in their wheelchairs before heading back to the main street. I thought this was a wonderful way to honor the elders in the community.
Third, every group in the community was represented. The community theater actors and actresses, the dance groups, the preschool, the high school and middle school, animal rescue, farmers, Boy Scouts, Men Against Domestic Violence – the entire diversity of the community in one gathering and all cheered equally by the crowd. The community marching band is so small it includes middle school students, high school students, and adults.
Some groups came over by ferry: a bagpipe group from Anacortes and the Washington State University alumni marching band. The largest group, by far, was the Orca Protectors group, which easily had 200 people and dogs. Most of them carried a dorsal fin with the name of a resident whale (the dogs had them attached to harnesses around their backs). But they also had a world, a giant fish, a smaller school of salmon, and an octopus.
There were some emotional favorites in the parade. Several WWII veterans waved from wheelchairs or seats of honor in cars. I enjoyed a little girl in the family support group who buzzed like a bee and “flew” the entire parade. A formation of small planes flew by to begin the parade.
A big thank you to John Hartley who took many of these pictures. I enjoyed a break from picture taking.
After the parade, the community made its way to the Historical Museum site, where there was a “Pig War Picnic” with pulled pork sandwiches for everyone. It was a perfect midpoint to an absolutely perfect day and a parade I will never forget.
How about you? Did you get to see or participate in a parade on the 4th?