Maxwelton’s old-fashioned Fourth of July parade marched into its 103rd year with Ben Franklin, Uncle Sam and some hippies reliving the past.
Chickens, dogs, guinea pigs and one bunny were also part of the 143 entries of the parade that once again lured thousands to the small South Whidbey community.
Generations of families come out, many of them attending reunions that revolve around the event.
“I grew up doing this,” said Julie Cain, sitting in the back of her mother’s classic 1954 Ford International red pickup with her three boys. “It has grown tremendously.”
Cain remembers simpler days when neighbors baked pies and the get-together seemed like a community potluck.
Her family still owns the land where the parade starts at the corner of Maxwelton and Swede Hill Roads.
“It was an old dairy farm,” she said. “Now it’s where the parade starts.”
Hosted by the Maxwelton Community Club, composed of about 200 families who live in the beach and farm community, the event is sponsored by many South Whidbey businesses.
As people registered to be part of the casual parade, members of Col. Richard “Buck” Francisco Marine Corps League Detachment 1451 passed out small American flags.
“Folks, where’s your flag?” Frank Thorton asked to some passersby. “You can’t come to a parade without a flag.”
The popular parade is a refreshing spur-of-the-moment unplanned affair. It only accepted entries for 90 minutes before its noon start.
Richard Grubb, serving as this year’s grand marshal, was out in front with crab hands and crab flags.
A very tall Ben Franklin held a sign “Freedom of the Press” on his front side while a sign on his back read: “Be the Parade you Want to See!”
Lasting for about one hour, the mix of floats, vehicles, kids on bikes, bigger kids on motorcycles, flag-waving organizations, politicians, musical groups and nonprofits passed by a grandstand where Darrell Slabaugh announced each entry with great enthusiasm.
“I’ve been doing this about 15 years,” he said. “It’s 103 years old and I’m 73, so I’m younger. It’s a wonderful community event and we have many sponsors and businesses to thank.”
Additionally, organizers also posted a GoFundMe page and collected more than $6,000 needed to pay for shuttle van services, insurance, security, food and other expenses.
Maxwelton also sponsors an annual button design contest for the 14-year-old and younger crowd. Kylee Whitcomb, 14, a rising Arlington High School freshman, is this year’s winner.
Many lined up to buy the new $1 button and buy others from past years.
Island Strings, a group of young and old musicians, has been a fixture in the parade for 48 years. Other groups, such as a South Whidbey Cub Scout troop, were new to procession of red, white and blue.
Kids on the sidelines scrambled for candy thrown from people in the parade. One parent commented it seemed they got a bigger haul than Halloween.
Frank Spear chauffeured his mother-in-law, Nancy Chu, through the parade route in style — in his gleaming 1956 Jaguar.
“She’s 89-years-old,” he said. “Grandma loves this parade. She loves dressing up and throwing candy.”