Maxwelton Independence Day Parade draws thousands for its 96th edition

MAXWELTON — Hot dog, what a parade!

While the crowd at this year’s Maxwelton Independence Day Parade didn’t smash earlier attendance figures — and the hot dog record remains intact — the patriotic promenade drew an appreciative crowd and more than 150 entries.

The parade is the capstone of South Whidbey’s Fourth of July celebrations each year, and organizers said this year’s celebration drew between 2,000 and 2,500 people, some hailing from as far away as Alabama.

“The spectators enjoyed it, the participants in the parade enjoyed it, and on the edges, all the neighborhood organizers scrambled around trying to make things happen,” said Bob Brooks, parade organizer.

Parade announcer Darrell Slabaugh kept things lively during the lead-up to the Independence Day spectacle and throughout the 90-minute parade.

“He’s Mr. Enthusiasm. He can make the morning cup of coffee sound like the finest drink in the world,” Brooks said.

The parade — which just marked its 96th year, making it one of the oldest July Fourth parades in the state — was awash in red, white and blue.

Dozens of kids from the Maxwelton Valley and many others from the South End and points farther east — Shoreline, Redmond, Kirkland, Woodinville, Bellevue — marched in the parade to the delighted shouts and screams from friends and family. The crowd along Maxwelton Road was three- or four-people deep in spots, and many prime viewing locations were snapped up three hours before the start of the parade.

This year’s parade had an eclectic offering. Marchers included the Whidbey Island Fellowship of Reconciliation; the Whidbey Crabs baseball team; representatives from Whidbey General Hospital; John the Clown and his rubber chicken, Warren; Island Strings; Happy Hounds 4-H Club; the South Whidbey Children’s Center; Good Cheer; Sno-Isle Libraries; and the Cub Scouts of Pack 57.

It was an off year for political marchers, with just the South Whidbey Republican Women, and supporters of candidates Rob McKenna and John Koster (though both Republicans were not present).

The parade’s rolling stock included many members from the Whidbey Island Model A Club.

In addition to Fords from the 1920s, Jerry Lubinski of Whoamule Farm brought his 1931 Ford Model A tow truck.

And then there was a 1969 Ford Mustang owned by Art McDonald of Mukilteo, a classic that’s been in the family since it was new and has appeared in more than 15 Maxwelton parades, and a 1934 Plymouth coupe owned by Mark Myres that was bought new in Oak Harbor the year the Deception Pass Bridge was finished.

Ray Gabelein turned heads in his 1955 Chevy Bel Air: “The car and I are the same age. The car has a new drive train and rear end, but mine is all original.”

Norm Brocard chugged by on his Groundhog tractor, built shortly after the end of World War II “when you couldn’t buy a real tractor.” Brocard’s iron beast of burden ended up on the Twomey Farm in Clinton, and was rescued by Brocard from a briar patch where it sat for 30 years.

Some entries on wheels came with a message: the gypsy wagon on the “SingPeace! Earth Pilgrimage for Peace and Global Harmony,” and the South Whidbey Society for the Preservation of Reggae Music, with its sole member, Mark Gmerek, pushing a wheelbarrow down the street holding an amplifier blasting a Bob Marley tune.

There were some clear crowd favorites, such as Charlie Gent of Arlington, a Yankee Doodle boy born on the Fourth of July, who was celebrating his fourth birthday.

And, of course, there were plenty of pirates.

The Salt Shack Pirates of Mutiny Bay, the Lagoon Point Pirates, the Glendale Pirates (aka the Norris family), and also the Pirates of Wall Street, who warned, “Tax the poor, give us more ... lock up your mortgage!”

In true island style, many people arrived just before the parade. Roads near the Little Brown Church were lined with cars from last-minute arrivals.

“So many people came in the last 40 minutes that our number of both entries and observers was very high,” said Nancy Waddell, one of the organizers of this year’s event.

But the one-way in, one-way out traffic revisions that were added this year seemed to do the trick.

“The one-way traffic seemed to work just fine,” she said.

Despite the standout sunny weather, and the revised traffic plan that made it safer and easier for pedestrians to get to the parade route, organizers couldn’t crack one “world record” set at an earlier Maxwelton parade: the number of hot dogs sold.

Concessions, and the sale of buttons and other items, provide the funding for the big event.

Organizers were still counting the leftovers on Tuesday, but they said it appeared they sold just 1,200 hot dogs; about 200 short of the previous record.

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