A crowd gathered to watch the Oak Harbor Fourth of July parade in 2017. There will be a parade this year to celebrate the Fourth after it was canceled during the coronavirus pandemic last year. File photo

A crowd gathered to watch the Oak Harbor Fourth of July parade in 2017. There will be a parade this year to celebrate the Fourth after it was canceled during the coronavirus pandemic last year. File photo

Oak Harbor will have Fourth of July fireworks, parade

This year’s event will look slightly different to comply with safety guidelines.

It’s been more than a year since Oak Harbor skies were lit up with a permitted fireworks show, but residents will hopefully not need to wait too much longer.

The Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce announcement that the fireworks show and parade will be happening this year came May 4 in a video that featured Star Wars characters Darth Vader, Rey and Baby Yoda.

“It was like winning the lottery — we were so excited,” said Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Vicki Graham of staff’s reaction that they could hold the Independence Day event.

Last year’s festivities were canceled, along with almost everything else fun, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s event will look slightly different to comply with safety guidelines.

Most of Windjammer Park will be off-limits to spectators because it will be in the fireworks “fallout zone.”

Graham explained that the pyrotechnics will be launched from land instead of a barge, and people would be in danger from falling embers if they stood in most of the park. There will be some open grassy areas where people can watch the show.

Graham suggested that people go to Bayshore Drive, the Windjammer Park parking lot or Flintstone Park to see the sparklers.

The chamber has $27,500 to spend on the show, Graham said. There are funds left over from last year’s sponsor donations.

Graham estimated that the show, starting about 9:30 or 10 p.m., will be approximately 26 and a half minutes long based on the current funds.

“You could be pretty much anywhere and still see it,” Graham said.

More sponsors are welcome to make contributions, which would allow for an even bigger show, she added.

The Fourth of July parade will travel down Bayshore Drive instead of Southeast Pioneer Way to give spectators enough room to social distance. Parade applications are available on the chamber’s website.

There will be no carnival this year, however. Graham explained that the usual vendor for fun had to scale back operations in light of the pandemic, and other carnival operators have found jobs in states with fewer restrictions.

A food truck round-up, similar to the chamber’s Food Truck Turnout in April, is on the table but it depends on the availability of volunteers. Businesses should contact the chamber if they are interested in an opportunity, she said.

Graham stressed that people will need to continue wearing masks and social distancing so Island County can stay in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan and hold the event.

She said she is excited about bringing some sense of normalcy back to the community.

“We want to put a smile back on their face,” she said.

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