Maxwelton Parade is a family affair for this year’s grand marshals

The Teel family will be this year
The Teel family will be this year's grand marshals. Standing in back, from left, Sonja, Paul and Kjersti Ringsrud, Kati Teel, Daryl Vander Pol, Justin and Stacie Vander Pol, Barb Teel, Julie and Andrew Cain, Molly and Arne Oien; middle row, Jerry Teel, Claudia Vander Pol, Chuck Teel; grandchildren seated on the ground, Erik Oien, Alicia Teel, Dezi Teel and Kyle Oien.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Claudia Vander Pol

It may be the world’s shortest parade, but it’s a world-class experience when the Maxwelton Parade rolls down two blocks from the Maxwelton Farm to the baseball field for the 92nd time this Wednesday.

And for more than 50 years, the parade has been a part of the Teel family’s Fourth of July celebration. This year, the family will be the parade’s grand marshals.

The Eddie Teel Family — founders of Vitamilk Dairy and owners of Maxwelton Farm since the 1950s — have been part of the Independence Day celebration since they came to the island, and for years the parade has been staged from the corner property owned by the family.

“My earliest memory of the parade is of decorating our bikes and riding them in the parade,” said Claudia Vander Pol, Eddie Teel’s daughter.

That was in 1955. The family would arrive a day early and she and her two brothers Jerry and Chuck would get straight to business.

“I remember getting there the day before, running to the little Maxwelton shop, hoping there was any crepe paper left,” she recalled.

“We got 25 cents for riding in the parade. We would take it to the store and spend it on candy. That was our Fourth of July,” Vander Pol said.

Friends and family would simply show up. That hasn’t changed to this day.

“I don’t know how many of us will show up,” she said. “My brother has a motor home. We kind of invade the house. The kids get the floor.”

The family will ride in a convertible provided by parade organizers and in the Teel’s restored Model A. The kids will walk behind the cars and there will be a Teel family banner.

It will be a way to celebrate the family’s connection to the neighborhood.

“Someone has been there one way or another since 1957,” she said. Her parents went to the parade until the year before their death in 1997.

Vander Pol said she enjoys what happens to Maxwelton Beach during the Fourth of July holiday. People help each other, neighbors lend each other materials or a hand to fix a float that was damaged and even local church congregations swell up from a few believers to a full house.

“It’s a special parade because of its informality,” Vander Pol said.

“As I see the parade forming, I imagine people scrambling in their cabins trying to come up with creative ways to participate,” she said.

She also looks forward to seeing all the people again that have been her friends for countless summers. The people who, like her, came as children to Maxwelton Beach in the summer time and are now back with their children and grandchildren.

“It’s what you hope America would be,” Vander Pol said.

Celebrations and parades in cities and suburbs have gotten too big and lost their meaning, she added.

And it’s not too late to be part of the biggest party on South Whidbey on July 4.

Registration is open for entries in the Maxwelton Fourth of July Parade and people can still register today before the parade begins.

The parade starts at 1 p.m. at Maxwelton and Swede Hill roads and marches a short distance to Dave Mackie Park. Games and prizes will be held after the parade at the Maxwelton softball field.

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