LIGHTING UP SEA AND SKY – If it’s the 4th of July, there are fireworks – and in La Conner, lots of them, long through the night. The town’s show lasted 15 minutes. The rockets’ red glare was not the only reflection on the water. – Photo by Nancy Crowell
STRUTTING THEIR STUFF – As much as we like all parades, we like our Independence Day Parade best. Here we are, all of us, feisty descendants of those patriots who said no to King George and threw his corporation’s tea into Boston Harbor lo those many decades ago. From left, Joanna May, MaryLee Killinger and Jean Collins. – Photo by Ken Stern
La Conner bared its soul during Fourth of July festivities here on Thursday.
Make that Souls. A string of Kia Souls, the hip boxy car designed for millennials, was among the highlights of a colorful, briskly-paced 15-minute downtown Independence Day Parade, which set in motion a full-day local celebration of America’s 243rd birthday. One of the Souls carried the company’s popular mascot – a hamster said to symbolize Kia’s goal of delivering motorists from the humdrum of life on an exercise wheel. There were other well received entries in the annual parade’s animal-themed division, such as the Swinomish Sloughmander, Tigger the Tiger and the La Conner fishcycle. Then there was the Meow Mixmobile, the latter representing a cat-egory all its own. Many parade participants – young and old alike – chose to walk, in most cases having donned patriotic red, white and blue garb. Leading the way, presenting the nation’s colors, were Swinomish Tribal Community veterans. Some walkers strode alongside leashed dogs, their pets often sporting patriotic accessories. Many who lined both sides of First Street as spectators had themselves walked to the parade venue. No small number trekked across Rainbow Bridge from Swinomish Village and Shelter Bay. Still others, like Town Council member Mary Wohleb, logged several miles looping the town before settling in at the parade venue. The serpentine also welcomed those riding trikes and bikes: Rick Dole rode a non-motorized version of Peter Fonda’s chopper from the 1969 film Easy Rider. The scene shifted from there to Pioneer Park for family fun, food and games, a Norman Rockwell-style Fourth of July get-together that has stood the test of time throughout the nation’s history. The celebration then moved on to the Port of Skagit’s La Conner Marina on the north end of town for music and a raffle benefitting the Rick Epting Foundation For The Arts Fund. A children’s area with paddle boats, art and face-painting was a new addition. Fireworks and ever-popular Chinese lanterns began appearing in the western sky in advance of dusk, setting the tone for what ended up being a gigantic – and official – pyrotechnic show on the west side of Swinomish Channel. The Western Display fireworks extravaganza received rave reviews all the way around for its 15 minutes of light and awe. But at least half-an-hour ahead of the 10 p.m. Town sponsored fireworks, the crowd lining the boardwalk from its north end south to La Conner Seafood and Prime Rib were treated to other rockets’ red glare, and many other colors and explosions. These came from at least five launching centers, primarily along Front Street. Swinomish fireworks sellers spent the evening running through their leftover inventory, overwhelming and out-exploding the official show. These brought claps and cheers, also and many in the crowd stayed along the railing or under their blankets in their chairs past 10:30 p.m. These west shore volunteer offerings continued until at least 12:45 a.m. rising and falling in frequency, but never fully petering out. Intermittently through the evening color bursts came from Snee Oosh beach on the west side of Fidalgo Island. “The fireworks were brilliant,” La Conner Mayor Ramon Hayes said afterward. “They kept going on and on and on.” Hayes had earlier joined in the parade, waving to the large throngs on hand. “I was very pleased with the festivities,” he said. “There were a lot of people in town for the parade, and many stayed for all the other activities.” He was especially pleased to see significant participation by locals. “For all the different views we have here,” said Hayes, “we’re still a tight-knit community. So it’s great when everybody can enjoy time together like this.”