Celebrate America to light up Freeland

Elizabeth Chambers and Jolie Bartel dance during last year
Elizabeth Chambers and Jolie Bartel dance during last year's Celebrate America.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / Record file

The 20th annual Celebrate America festival will light off in Freeland next week.

Continuing a tradition of fun and entertainment, the Thursday, July 3 event takes place in Freeland Park on East Shoreview Drive.

“It’s a fair kind of feeling — just a fun atmosphere,” said Dareld Chittim, associate pastor of South Whidbey Assembly of God Church.

The church has organized the celebration, which is funded entirely by donations, for the past two decades. The event provides a way for the community to come together in a family-friendly atmosphere and celebrate the freedom that we enjoy as Americans, Chittim said.

Food vendors will dish out a smorgasbord of delicacies beginning at 4 p.m.

Stacy Madsen, a Whidbey Coffee employee, said the company has been giving out free coffee for the past four years, a tradition they plan to continue.

“It’s pretty amazing that such a small community can come together to put on such a big event,” Madsen said.

Wee Whidbey Islanders can romp in the bouncy castle or have their faces painted from 3:40 to 7:40 p.m. and island  musicians will begin performing at 6 p.m.

Performing this year are: HeartGraves, an alternative rock band composed of siblings Conley and Newton Kellogg; South Whidbey Blues Combo with Garrett Poteat on piano, Kris Watson and Conor Workman on saxophones, Joe Ballestrasse on bass and Jason Li on drums; Sophia Duccini, a local singer and songwriter; Marcus Raymond, a comedian, juggler and escape artist; and Blue Jay Way, a Beatles tribute band. 

“We’ve got a great lineup of entertainment again this year,” said Chittim.

Vintage car aficionados and admirers will have a chance to enjoy Whidbey’s Model A Fords which will be on display at 5 p.m.

Veterans will be honored at 10 p.m. beginning with the “National Anthem” sung by Josh Bishop, continuing with a patriotic presentation of remembrance and recognition and concluding with “God Bless America” sung by Cheryl Veblen.

The evening will conclude with a cascade of colors as fireworks are set off over Holmes Harbor.

In years past, organizers have scrambled to secure funding and have relied upon assistance from Nichols shipyard. This year, Chittim said, the funding has not been a problem thanks to increased donations from community members.

“It was really amazing to see all of the funding come together this year from individuals and businesses in our wonderful community of South Whidbey,” he said.

Whidbey Coffee, Payless, Freeland Chamber of Commerce, Kirkland RV, Shortstop Texaco and the Freeland Shell service station have all been major supporters of the event this year.

Several roads will be closed Thursday from 2 to 11 p.m., including: Shoreview Drive, between Freeland and Myrtle avenues; Stewart Road, between Myrtle Avenue and Lynne Drive; and Myrtle Avenue, between Shoreview Drive and Main Street.

Beginning at 4:30 p.m., the roads are closed around Freeland Park and a free shuttle bus begins running from the Freeland park-and-ride and the Island Transit bus stop in front of Chase Bank.

For details, call 360-221-1656 or visit


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