Freeland celebrates America

Madison Taylor paints 4-year-old Karina Hernandez’s face during Celebrate America.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Madison Taylor paints 4-year-old Karina Hernandez’s face during Celebrate America.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

There were lots of private shows around Holmes Harbor on Tuesday night.

There was only one Celebrate America Festival, and it ruled the July 3 skies for almost 30 minutes. Sure the sparklers, Roman candles and even the shells of neighboring homes were bright and sounded off with a pop but the main show would not be outdone. No fireworks shot higher, banged louder or shined brighter than those from the barge contracted by South Whidbey Assembly of God, the food, play, music and fireworks organizers.

The afternoon and evening event at Freeland Park lived up to its billing as a family-friendly event. Face painting and the park’s playground held youngsters’ attention. If those activities left the youthful lot wanting, three inflatable rooms were available for kids to jump and bounce out some energy.

“It’s just something to do, something fun,” said Coupeville resident Christina Hernandez, who brought her 5-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter, as well as extended family. “And there’s lots for the kids to do.”

Plus, Freeland’s fireworks display is the best on Whidbey Island, in Hernandez’s opinion.

“It’s better than the one in Oak Harbor,” she said.

And there was lots of energy to be consumed --- Pirate Ice, kettle corn, cotton candy, coffee, pulled pork and apple dumplings were all up for grabs. There was plenty of entertainment to be devoured, too. Pop rock band Baby Island opened the stage with soft, melodic tunes, including one inspired by a dream backup vocalist and keyboardist Ashley Erickson had about a buried house.

Baby Island was a hit for at least one person in the crowd, 3-year-old Kaleb Kennedy. During the band’s set, the Freeland tyke was grooving in the back with his hand on his right hip, swinging from side to side like a tiny Elvis Presley, with much less hair and a mid-90s Seattle Sonics jacket on (just a bit removed from Elvis’ ostentatious leather and rhinestone outfits).

“We all just dance around,” said Kaleb’s mother, Bethany Kennedy, who brought six of her children to the park, as she has for years.

“The kids love it. It’s a good place for them to eat candy and run it all off. That it’s all free, that helps.”

South Whidbey may have found its next entrepreneurs in a trio of girls younger than 11. Sisters Kiera, 5 (and a half, she pointed out, adding that she just celebrated her half birthday July 1) and Tessa Sherman, 10, set up a lemonade stand on a busy road with their friend Juliana Larsen, 10.

“Hello. Would you like some lemonade?” Kiera asked a few groups of people strolling by their stand.

For 50 cents, passersby could get a Dixie cup of lemonade, and by 5 p.m. they had already sold out of a gallon jug worth of pink lemonade and raspberry lemonade. Juliana confessed her recipe for the sweet summer drinks --- they were made from a mix she got at the grocery store. It came with a show, too, as Tessa demonstrated she could do the splits --- a feat she learned from Island Dance.

Few things celebrated America like the entrepreneur spirit, fireworks and family at this year’s event.


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