The celebration actually started yesterday. There were the beach fireworks Duff and I saw while paddling, usually involving ordnance obtained from the reservation and NOT approved by Washington State law. Also, the neighbors a couple of doors down had hired a band. Duff and I had heard them while paddling, and back home they were really loud.
After dark Laura and I walked out front and watched (and listened to) fireworks both on the reservation across Padilla Bay and on the San Juan Islands. For some of them, if these weren’t official shows, then someone was REALLY in violation of the “safe and sane” fireworks laws.
Monday, July the Fourth was one of the best Independence Days we’ve ever had. It started quietly enough like every other morning on the island so far. I even skipped another paddling opportunity in order to sleep in a bit. Mid-morning we decided to head down to the Samish Island Parade on North Beach.
We bundled Laura’s mom into the car, packed some chairs, and headed on down. Parking was already tight, but we found a good spot and set up camp. Parade participants as well as spectators arrived, and we watched them all. There were still parties in full swing at the beach cabins, and some of these folks just pulled up chairs with whatever beverage they were enjoying at the time.
The crowds were huge, much larger than the normal island population. Soon, though, the Samish Island Marching Band started playing at the community center. This is a volunteer band of all ages, and had a decent mix of instruments. Oddly enough, they started with “O Canada” followed by “The Star Spangled Banner.”
The parade was led off by the local fire department, followed by the band. The band marched from the community center down to the end of the island, where the rest of the floats were waiting. The fire engine came back, leading the floats, with the band finishing things up on its return trip.
There were, of course, lots of classic cars, including a cool wooden jaguar…
There were a couple of floats promoting causes, including a “bra truck”…
…and there were various civic groups and the local camp.
Basically, anyone with a convertible, bicycle or lawn tractor could participate.
The whole affair tended to be a bit care-free and unorganized. There were large gaps between the floats. Also, those that had finished rode back during the gaps to take places among the spectators. At times it was unclear which direction the parade was actually moving.
Finally the band came back through to bring the parade to a close. The gathered back at the community center and ended with a rousing rendition of “Louie, Louie” while the onlookers danced.
One of the most refreshing things about this parade was that it was just a lot of fun. In our area there is almost a worship of the military and with so many churches involved there are religious overtones everywhere. This was just a group of folks getting together to celebrate this great nation, and it was a nice change of pace.
After the parade we went back home and began to prepare for our traditional meal of some sort of ground up cow meat cooked over an open flame. First, though, Laura really wanted some fireworks for the evening. I asked Duff if there were any of the “safe and sane” fireworks stands nearby. This is what he had in mind instead…
Yep, we were headed toward the reservation. However, first we had to get the fire going. Duff was determined to cook over wood, so he brought over his fire pit, loaded it with grasses and wood, then lit it with a homemade flame thrower.
At the Swinomish reservation there was lots of activity. I picked a stand and headed to the counter. These folks were used to dickering, so I got one package of rockets and one package of “safe and sane” ground fountains for Laura. I eschewed the mortars and other larger fireworks and stuck with stuff that, while maybe not technically legal, was still fairly tame. Duff informed me that if we wanted the real “interesting” stuff we needed to skip the stands and go straight to the trailers that were parked behind. I figured we had enough explosives for one evening.
The coals were ready when we got back, so burgers were cooked and consumed….
…then we got to the fireworks. As a cresent moon set over the island we lit our small display.
From where we were we also had an excellent view across the water of the big display over at Anacortes. It was a great way to end an excellent Fourth.