It was a typical Oak Harbor Fourth of July — a little wet and windy, but that didn’t stop the fun.
Thousands of people turned out for the parade that snaked along Bayshore Drive. It was through-and-through an all-American parade, complete with gleaming red fire trucks, beauty queens, politicians in classic cars and hydros dragged on flatbed trucks.
For the first time in as long as anyone can remember, Oak Harbor High School’s marching band made an appearance. Its new band director is working with the kids this summer with plans to put the band on the field during half time at football games this fall too.
The parade included eclectic entries, including a quilt-covered Volkswagen, mermaids who didn’t appear entirely female and Oak Harbor Yacht Club’s Buccaneers. Their pirate ship would occasionally light off an explosive BOOM, causing pre-teen boys in the vicinity to clutch their ears and shriek.
At the front of the parade was Haylee Armstrong, 7, who helped carry a banner for Re/Max Acorn Properties. She participated in the first Miss Pioneer Pageant at the Whidbey Playhouse hours earlier.
Re/Max Acorn annually gives out thousands of miniature flags. This year, they upped the ante to 9,000 and still ran out.
Christine Cribb, executive director of the Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, estimates twice that many people attended, since it seemed half the people didn’t get a flag.
The chamber and Oak Harbor Noon Rotary Club organized the event, which included a party in Windjammer Park and a fireworks celebration later that evening. Community sponsors paid for all of it.
Not far down the route was Adelaide Wallin, 6, who told her grandparents Gary and Martha Wallin she was looking forward to C-A-N-D-Y. And, boy, did she and every other kid get it. The firefighters were busy flinging helmets of the stuff to children, who scurried into the street to retrieve it.
All along the route, kids and adults alike wore their best red-white-and-blue garb, including Joy and Jason Brent and their dog, Roxie. They’re originally from the Midwest, and Oak Harbor’s parade rivals any there, they said. It’s a good, old-fashioned parade.
“You know a lot of the people,” he said.
“It’s just a good, friendly feeling.”