Kyle Jensen / The Record — Bystanders young and old waved to the marchers, hoping for candy.

Whidbey celebrates independence the Maxwelton way

Some came to witness the hoards of colorful characters in the parade, others showed up to flaunt their red, white and blue alongside people doing the same.

Some were even ready to battle others for the piles of candy tossed from floats, hoping to score some to take home.

For those involved, the 102nd Maxwelton Independence Day Parade was one to remember.

“We just want to say it was so nice to come out and enjoy the community we have,” said B.J. Hoogerwerf, president of the Maxwelton Community Club. “We love the community, and that’s why we say anybody can be in the parade, even someone who just wants to walk her dog.”

Tuesday’s celebrations saw roughly 2,000 people make their way to Maxwelton Road for an afternoon of floats, food and post-parade games. The hour-long parade, which starts at the intersection with Swede Hill Road and ends at Dave Mackie County Park, saw 26 groups, 43 vehicles, 17 motorcycles and 147 individually-registered marchers make their way down the road to resounding fanfare. Organizations such as 4-H, American Legion Post 141, Good Cheer, Whidbey Telecom and many more marched in the parade.

Grand marshal and longtime event musician Danny Ward, with his saxophone slung over his shoulder, led the parade while waving to those watching from the sides. Those following him spent the next hour waving flags, cheering and tossing candy by the handfuls to the crowd. As he typically does every year at the end of the parade, Ward signaled the end with a saxophone rendition of the National Anthem at Dave Mackie Park.

“We feel great about the parade,” Hoogerwerf said. “We lucked out with beautiful weather, we sold out on about everything in the food booth and we nearly ran out of the 1,500 buttons we made for this year.”

Hoogerwerf said the parade has grown since she became involved 30 years ago, and some spectators commented on the larger scale of the event. Seattle residents Dan and Rose Petersen, whose daughter lives on South Whidbey, recall the days when the Maxwelton Independence Day Parade felt like one of the smallest community parades they had ever witnessed.

That wasn’t so long ago. These days, they’re part of the crowd that is treated to a full hour demonstration of pride for Whidbey Island and the country.

“It’s grown so much, it’s such a great parade filled with laid back and interesting locals,” Rose Petersen said. “When my daughter bought a house out here 12 years ago, we started coming to the parade. At that point, it felt like it was over in 15 minutes.”

For the Petersens and Hoogerwerf, though, the magic of the Maxwelton parade lies in the open invitation to join the parade as a marcher. Dan Petersen says that approach is unlike anything he’s seen and added it wouldn’t be possible in a “big city” parade. In the end, he says, the community pride shines through because of it.

“It’s more community oriented than a parade in a city like Seattle,” Dan Petersen said. “What you can see from that focus is people here have a lot of pride for their community, and that really shines through.”

“We will definitely be back next year.”

Kyle Jensen / The Record — South Whidbey’s rural character showed through in the parade, as marchers made their way down the road with chickens, dogs and horses.

Kyle Jensen / The Record — Kids scramble for candy.

Kyle Jensen / The Record — Hearts & Hammers, the volunteer organization that does repair work on roughly 30 houses per summer, joined in on the parade festivities.

Kyle Jensen / The Record — Hearts & Hammers, the volunteer organization that does repair work on roughly 30 houses per summer, joined in on the parade festivities.

Kyle Jensen / The Record — Marchers took the opportunity to spread their own message to the crowd, including the globalized message on this truck.

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