Hot food, 1980’s revival glam rock music and a 20-minute fireworks display over Holmes Harbor are all planned for this year’s Celebrate America event.
The annual Independence Day party, a free event which is actually held July 3, blasts off next week at 3 p.m. at Freeland Park. It’s a festival designed for all ages, featuring activities ranging from live entertainment to bouncy houses and a comedy show for the kids, said Matt Chambers, pastor of South Whidbey Assembly of God and event organizer.
But the event, now in its 23rd year, is really about bringing people together and celebrating America. This year, that’s especially important, he said.
“I think it’s a crucial time,” Chambers said. “Our country is so divided right now and one of the ways to solve the division is to spend some time together.”
“This is not partisan, it’s not liberal, it’s not conservative, Democrat or Republican. It’s our attempt to the get the county together and celebrate patriotism.”
The schedule of events is as follows:
- 3-7 p.m. – Bouncy house inflatables and face painting for the kids
- 4 p.m. – Food vendors open
- 4:30 p.m. – The roads are closed around Freeland park and a free shuttle bus begins running from the Freeland Park-&-Ride and the Island Transit bus stop in front of Chase Bank
- 6 p.m. – Musical entertainment begins with Swingy, a rockabilly swing band
- 7 p.m. – Fireboat demonstration and boat tours by South Whidbey FIRE/EMS
- 7:05 p.m. – The JuggleMania Show, which features interactive comedy and high level circus tricks.
- 8 p.m. – The Shifty Sailors take the stage
- 9 p.m. – Hair Nation, a 1980’s classic rock tribute band performs
- 10 p.m. – Patriotic presentation begins with the National Anthem sung by Don Lauer and will include a time of honoring and recognizing veterans.
- 10:20 p.m. – Fireworks show begins.
Fireworks can be viewed from the park and along Shoreview Drive. Lawn chairs and a blanket are highly recommended.
The event is run by the South Whidbey Assembly of God, but it’s paid for by the public. This year’s total bill — fireworks [$18,000], music, police, portable toilets, etc. — topped out at about $36,000. The church contributed about $6,000, but the rest came from private donations.
“Even though we organize it, it’s really funded by the community,” Chamber said.
The financial powerhouses are businesses. Davis Industries, which owns several businesses on the South End, pitched in the most this year with a $3,500 donation. Whidbey Coffee came in second with $2,500 — it’s “by far” the largest contributor overall, having donated at least $2,000 every year since the event started two decades ago.
But private residents donate too, some of which do so annually.
“We have people who for years have sent us $10 or $15 bucks,” he said.
Visit www.swagchurch.com to donate. For more information about the event, call 360-221-1656.
The parking lot at Freeland park is roped off on the afternoon of July 2, and the boat ramp is closed at midnight of July 2 as well.