Mike Najarian braced himself for a busy day of carnival chaos.
“Go find a ride and start doing something,” he told a group of three carnival workers as they inquired where to start.
Najarian, ride supervisor and electrician for Davis Amusement Cascadia, roamed the grounds at Windjammer Park Tuesday morning, directing the carnival setup that is part of Oak Harbor’s Fourth of July celebration.
If he seemed edgy, he really wasn’t. Oak Harbor’s mild summer weather makes the waterfront town one of his favorite stops among the roughly 60 the company makes along the West Coast, especially considering the company is based in Las Vegas.
Standing underneath blue skies with a gentle breeze off the water Tuesday, Najarian called Oak Harbor paradise.
“I love this spot,” he said. “In Las Vegas, right now it’s 119 degrees down there.”
Oak Harbor’s Fourth of July celebration marks the city’s grandest event of the year, attracting thousands to downtown.
The festivities kick off July 3 with the carnival opening at 4 p.m. at Windjammer Park and running through July 7.
Windjammer Park will be the hub of Independence Day festivities, however, a number of new events, including a patriotic pet parade, are taking place on Pioneer Way to lure crowds to historic downtown on July 4.
The grandest event of them all, outside the evening fireworks show, is the grand parade, which will begin at the intersection of Midway Boulevard and Pioneer at 11 a.m.
The parade route will veer on to Bayshore Drive and later re-enter Pioneer Way before winding up near the Ace Hardware store parking lot.
Between 85 and 110 entries are participating in the parade. A notable absence this year will be a flyover by the Navy due to federal cutbacks from sequestration.
The bulk of the vendors and musical entertainment will be located at Windjammer Park, which will be open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Coupeville band Jacob’s Road will perform at the gazebo at 6 p.m.
However, the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce worked with the Oak Harbor Downtown Merchants Association to provide a number of new features to attract visitors to Pioneer Way.
The one-way street portion of Pioneer Way will be closed to vehicle traffic from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. to make room for a number of events, including an apple pie bake-off at 1 p.m. and pet parade at 2 p.m.
Prizes will be awarded for the top three pies and pies will be sold off by donation after the contest to benefit the Help House food bank.
“There’s been a lot of interest,” said Kathy Reed, Oak Harbor Chamber director. “I can’t keep the flyers on the counters.”
The patriotic pet parade will accept entries until 1 p.m. on July 4. The event is free.
Charity Hamilton, organizer of the pet parade, will be located in a booth in front of Go Realty at 740 S.E. Pioneer Way for those interested in signing up their pets on the day of the event.
Other children’s events, including a chalk art contest, also will be taking place along Pioneer Way.