Oak Harbor resident Madelyn Belnap, 2, sits on Travis Belnap’s shoulders as she watches Coupeville’s Memorial Day Parade pass her by. Photo by Daniel Warn/Whidbey News-Times

Annual town parade a memory maker

Memorial Day event draws families from across the island

People from across the Whidbey Island gathered in Coupeville Saturday for the annual Memorial Day Parade.

“We love how much space there is,” said Langley resident Dan Phillips as he gestured to all the families along Front Street, one of the roads the procession followed.

Phillips said he and his wife, Rachel, brought their twins, Henry and Tate, and youngest son, Finn, to Coupeville because they were looking for an event that would create memories of quality time.

The family of five found what it was looking for.

While waiting for the parade to wind its way onto Front Street, families made the most of the road’s wide-open space, sans traffic thanks to the street’s early closure in respect for the parade.

Henry and Tate Phillips, 3, tried their feet at hop-scotch, which was drawn in sidewalk-chalk by other parade-goers. Finn Phillips, 1, waved his little American flag expertly, dodging balls thrown by older kids as he cheered on his bros.

All the while, Rachel and Dan Phillips attended to the welfare of their children and even had the chance to pop their heads into a few nearby stores.

The parade also drew families from the north. Oak Harbor residents Morgan and Travis Belnap brought their kids, 4-year-old Silas and 2-year-old Madelyn, to the parade in order to pay their respects to those that gave there lives in the U.S. military.

Clad in patriotic gear, Madelyn and Silas Belnap sat on Front Street’s curb and awaited a chance to nab candy and see firetrucks, old and new.

They didn’t have to wait long.

At one moment Front Street was crowded by neighbors and visitors socializing, walking dogs, tossing tennis balls, playing tag and eating pulled pork or hot dogs from nearby vendors.

The next moment, the crowd parted down the center as the honor guard marched through, followed by the traditional bagpipes and a trail of classic vehicles peppered throughout by bands, scouts and sea cadet corps.

Next came community organizations such as Daughters of the Pioneers of Washington, Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation and Coupeville Lions Club to name a few.

A crowd favorite was the Quilters on the Rock group that rolled through the parade route in a Volkswagen Beetle, sporting a car-sized quilted cozy.

The parade began on North Main Street, wheeled onto Front Street then up Alexander onto Coveland, ending at Town Park, where the town observed a remembrance ceremony and concert.

“As always, the parade was fabulous,” Coupeville resident Molly McPherson said. “I’ve been watching it since it started, and I love it.”

McPherson set up a “free garage sale” on North Main outside of her house so that parade-goers could leave with some of her possessions free of charge. She hoped to rid herself of some of her old junk, thinking that others might find more use for it.

For Coupeville resident Jayne Johnson, the parade has become a multigenerational affair.

“My granddaughter and I come every year,” Johnson said. “We wouldn’t miss it for anything.”

Three-year-old Tate Phillips, plays peek-a-boo with a Memorial Day Parade-goer Saturday in Coupeville. Photo by Daniel Warn/Whidbey News-Times

Marshall Bronson, U.S. Navy (Ret.), center, waves as he rolls through the Memorial Day Parade’s route in Coupeville Saturday. Photo by Daniel Warn/Whidbey News-Times

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