Parades and Community Spirit

Last week we found ourselves in need of restocking the boat.  Getting groceries, filling the water tanks, emptying the waste tanks and the trash, all these housekeeping tasks need to be done every week or 10 days.  We hadn’t ventured far from Friday Harbor, and we knew that the marina had all the services we were needing, so we returned for a two night stay.  Why two nights?  Because we had heard that the Fourth of July parade in Friday Harbor ranks among the top ten on someone’s list of small town parades.  We decided that we should enter in to the local celebration while we were there.

Sleeping peacefully in the Marina on the morning of the 4th, we were awoken at 6:00 am by cannon shots.  Nearby.  The Veterans of Foreign Wars building overlooks the marina, and their tradition is to start the day right by firing off a few.  I can tell you, it made us come to attention!

Having done our homework, we knew the parade didn’t start until 10:30 am, so we headed out to our favorite bakery to grab a pastry and coffee.  On the way, we shook our heads as we saw people setting up chairs along the parade route to stake out their spots.  After all, this wasn’t the Rose Parade.  There was plenty of time to have a leisurely pastry and go back to the boat to put on shorts and get our sunscreen on.  As we left the bakery at about 9:00, it became clear that going back to the boat was out of the question.  The borders of the streets were filled with chairs and people.  We were very fortunate to find someone who shared her bench with us, and we stayed put, making conversation and wishing we had on sunscreen and shorts as the sun had come out.  A marimba band played across the street, which made the waiting pleasant.  The atmosphere was celebratory, and I think we were the only ones not fully decked out in the colors of the flag.  (Except for our red, sweaty faces and our long, heavy blue jeans).

Parade street
Pre parade anticipation – Friday Harbor

The parade began with the singing of the National Anthem.  As the singer began, a hush fell.  I could feel the air of anticipation and respect that was present.  Children and adults stood with hands on hearts.  A cheer erupted afterward, and the parade began.

First down the street were the Veterans, bearing flags.  Behind them came other Veterans, followed by a couple who were unable to walk the whole distance, but participated by being driven.  This was the most moving moment of the parade for me.  Parade goers were yelling at these Vets.  They were yelling, “Thank you!”  This was no polite handshake and solemn “Thank you for your service.”  This was a heartfelt and yelled with gusto, “Thank you!”  I still tear up remembering it, because it was so very appropriate.

The rest of the parade was filled with variety.  Some highlights were:  A group of dogs dressed in orca costumes, named the Dog Pod; a pirate float which apparently is a regular entry, and which gets further embellishments each year (this year there were 3  bubble blowing machines attached, which blew masses of bubbles into the street); a womens’ boxing class boxing, punching and growling their way fiercely down the street.  It was a slice of American pie, and we enjoyed it immensely.

Stanley Steamer
Stanley Steamer

The parade was followed by the Pig War Picnic, put on by the Historical Society.  No that’s not a typo: Pig War.  America and England very nearly went to war over a pig.  I won’t go into it now, but if you’re interested, look it up.  It’s a fascinating bit of history.  The picnic commemorates the meal shared by British and American troops after the dispute was finally settled.  There was live music and games for kids and adults, such as a cake walk, egg toss and “pennies in the hay.”

In the evening, there was a “Rock the Dock” street dance, followed by fireworks in the bay.  We sat on top of Voyager as the fireworks burst loud and colorful above us.  Cheering and ooooohs could be heard from people in the surrounding boats, and whenever there was a pause in the action, the boaters all honked their boat horns and emergency air horns.  There may or may not have even been a little noise coming from our boat – I’ll let you decide.

All in all, it was a wonderful day.  It served to restore my hope in the character and general good will of people.  It was a great antidote for the cloud of generally bad news that is regularly disseminated over the airwaves.  Yes, this 4th of July was a breath of fresh air.

Today is Saturday, and we are at the quaint town of East Sound on Orcas Island.  Earlier today, we took our dinghy to the dock and set out to explore the town and guess what?  They were having a Fourth of July parade!      -Beth

Sunset blind bay
Every day is a gift

8 thoughts on “Parades and Community Spirit

  1. I finally got the subscription to your blog working and have caught up on all the fun. I´m glad you guys are enjoying the boat and I look forward to seeing you when you venture back south to California. Cheers!


  2. I certainly understand how moving your 4th experience was. A couple of weeks ago we attended the Reno Rodeo. When the flag entered the arena everyone stood and placed their hand over their heart. The men removed their hats and everyone remained standing until the anthem was sung.
    The entire experience gave me “chicken skin” and a lump in my throat.
    Patriotism is still alive and well in America’s Rodeo.
    We enjoy reading your blogs, and we are so delighted you are having such a wonderful experience.❤️❤️Jackie and Earl


  3. Nothing like a little Americana to refresh the soul. Glad you got to experience the parade and other July 4th related activities…but sorry about the cannon “alarm clock”…ha, ha!


  4. Mark and I are sitting outside this evening enjoying reading your 4th of July experience. It creates emotion in us as well, to hear about such hometown respect of America, veterans, and a spirit of community and unity. Sounds wonderful, even though warm!
    When we were on Orcas and San Juan Island last fall we went to a restaurant that served Pig War Martini’s. Mark had a couple of them… and they came with a cute little pig in them…the restaurant is right on the water at Roche Harbor, on Roth side of San Juan Island. Anyway, that prompted more discussion with the locals about the “pig war” and a bit more research on our own. Be sure and go to Rosario/Moran State Park. The ship builder, Robert Moran has a very interesting late estate, museum and ship building story.. on Orcas…you’ve probably already discovered that.
    Your adventures are a delight to read… keep ‘me coming. Here’s to America❤️🐷🐽🇺🇸


  5. Thinking of you two on this Sunday morning. “So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:21
    Praying God’s blessing upon you, and upon the waters… and for every winged bird, whatever the color of their feet!
    Love, Jude and Mark


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