Fourth of July begins early on South Whidbey

A late booking of a pyrotechnician 25 years ago helped create perfect cohesion for patriotic celebrations on South Whidbey.

By the time Matt Chambers and South Whidbey Assembly of God had raised enough money for the first Freedom Celebration event in 1994, the fireworks company was booked up for July 4. The event, which is now called Celebrate America, has been held on July 3 ever since.

The scheduling works perfectly for those who also attend the Fourth of July Maxwelton Parade, which is in its 104th year.

Celebrate America festivities begin 3 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, at Freeland Park with bouncy houses and face painting. The free shuttle starts running at 4:30 p.m. from Trinity Lutheran Church, Chase Bank or “anywhere in between where you can flag down” the yellow school buses, said Chambers. There won’t be parking available at the park.

Entertainment, which will include local bands and the popular “Reptile Man,” starts at 6 p.m. At 9 p.m., Chambers will recognize current and fallen members of the military.

He will also talk about the “golden rule,” he said. He strives to create a uniting event during divisive times, he said.

The main event will commence around 10:20 p.m. Approximately $20,000 worth of fireworks will be launched from a Nichols Brothers barge in Holmes Harbor.

The Independence Day spirit will march on, starting at noon in Maxwelton. Registration to be in the parade and the shuttle service start at 10:30 a.m. from the corner of French and Maxwelton roads.

The parade, which is put on by the Maxwelton Community Club, can include anyone on South Whidbey that wants to participate.

Approximately 200 entries and 2,000 people are expected.

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