The sleepy community of Maxwelton will come alive for the 99th time later this week with the annual Fourth of July parade.
The area’s signature event kicks off at 1 p.m. Friday, July 4, at Maxwelton Beach. Those who wish to participate may register on parade day beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the corner of Maxwelton and Swede Hill roads.
Founded by the Maxwelton Community Club in 1905, the South Whidbey favorite has been held every year for nearly a century with the exception of years in which the event was cancelled due to wartime. B.J. Hoogerwerf, who was recently elected as Maxwelton Community Club president, said the parade is special primarily due to its inviting, inclusive nature.
“I think the biggest thing is that anybody can be in it,” she said. “You can walk, you can wave a flag, you can pull your little brother in a wagon, you can walk your dog or walk your ducks.”
Hoogerwerf estimates that approximately 400 to 500 people will walk in the parade this year with about 2,000 in attendance.
Jan Van Muyden, Island County parks chief, will serve as Grand Marshal.
“I feel it to be a great honor,” he said. “It’s hard to put all the superlatives I’d like to use, but it’s a great honor from a historical and current perspective.”
“It’s an important part of Island County history,” he added.
Bob Brooks, parade organizer, has been attending since he moved to the island in 1980. He appreciates the fact that the parade has maintained its simplicity and focus on community, families and American tradition.
“It’s as close to the 1950s as you can get today. It’s old time Americana just … as simple and enjoyable as you can get with no complications,” said Brooks.
The parade is free. Souvenir buttons — the design for which was selected from a pool of entries created by kids 14 and under — will be available for purchase at $1. Hot dogs, pie, chips, cookies, water and soda will also be sold. The funds from these sales will help to cover next year’s parade costs; a portion will go towards community improvements.
The parade will commence with the Second Wind Drum Line, a group of eight local drummers headed by Jim Nevermann. Island Strings, South Whidbey’s Suzuki method music school, will return this year to serenade attendees. Danny Ward, local saxophonist, will play the National Anthem. The Megan McClung Marine Corps League Detachment color guard will also be present, as will a procession of antique car owners. The parade will end with South Whidbey Fire/EMS crew who staff Maxwelton Station 33.
Nevermann said that, although his drum line has played under different names, they have been keeping the rhythm for the parade since 1998.
“Although we haven’t participated every year, we always like it because it has a sense of down-home Americana to it,” he said, adding that the drum line enjoys performing for neighbors and friends.
Don Zontine, who has attended the parade for 30 years, said that the parade “gives a sense of solidarity, that people still care.”
“When my kids were small we used to put them in the trikes and push them along, and one year my daughter was on a pony,” he added with a laugh.
This year, Zontine will be making a political statement with puppets in a show about corporate America.
Post-parade festivities include three-legged and sack races and an egg toss. The first, second and third-place winners of these events will be awarded ribbons.
The parade will begin at Maxwelton Beach in Clinton and end at the Dave Mackie Park boat ramp. Free parking will be available in the field behind Maxwelton Farm, near Dave Mackie Park. Handicapped parking will also be available. There will be free shuttle service from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with pickup at the Little Brown Church on French Road and drop-off near Swede Hill Road.
“We just want to encourage families to come and have a good time,” said Hoogerwerf.