The celebration of Independence Day – the 4th of July – was conducted in its full Americana glory in south Pierce County this weekend, from the magnificent summer sunshine to wondrous fireworks displays, and capped by the Eatonville parade.
To begin, Friday’s morning chilling cold and rain gave way to sunshine that just built throughout the weekend and had swimmers frolicking in Alder Lake by the 4th.
On Sunday the 3rd, the annual Eatonville fireworks display delighted thousands, and was highlighted by the lingering red and yellow glow of sunset that lasted until 11 pm.
Concerns that the 30-minute show might be diminished due to economic concerns were unfounded, and the finale was an artistic treat – swirls, colors and varied bursts filled the sky with a sense of bounty and grandeur.
One new display that charmed the audience was a timed combination affair that gave the illusion of a colored fountain in the air. Tremendously effective.
As for the parade, Eatonville’s reputation for hosting a splendid community event was upheld.
As is the tradition, the parade began with a color guard and several military groups, all reflecting the warfare that has accompanied our freedom.
Then came the potpourri of community groups – from the Eatonville High School marching band to car clubs, and including commercial and civic sponsors – that is the hallmark of the 4th of July celebration.
Mayor Ray Harper led the way for this portion, and Mr. Harper looked fit and rested despite the many travails of guiding the Town through tough economic times.
Numerous car clubs drove by at intervals, from old to vintage to historic, and one automobile, a 60’s-something Ford Fairlaine brought a gasp from one of the audience members on the sidewalk, “That’s the car I went to my prom in!”
A special treat was a flotilla of British-made MG sports cars, all decked-out with British and American flags and bunting, offering a whimsical reflection on the tumultuous history the two countries shared in 1776.
Of course Uncle Sam was in the parade, as were several Daffodil Festival princesses atop their float.
Reflecting their increased involvement in community events, Daffodil officials said the young ladies are scheduled to participate nearly every weekend until the end of the year in parades, youth activities and special events throughout the region.
Once again, many of our neighbors to the north in Graham traveled to Eatonville, with several units from the Graham Fire and Rescue Department participating, including students from various Bethel schools who were aboard the GF&RD aerial truck as a reward for having developed fire escape plans for their families.
In addition, religious groups also marched in the parade, most notably the Graham Emmanuel Baptist Church, which will be sponsoring the 4th Annual Graham Jam in Frontier Park on July 16.
Numerous commercial interests participated in the parade, such as Eatonville’s Arrow Lumber and the Ohop Mutual Power Company. Tooting his very large horn from Graham was Bill Hall, the backhoe guy, along with his lovely wife Ellen, the noted Jazzercise instructress.
Eatonville’s Dance Group sashayed-by all too quickly, and they were joined by many other youth organizations, such as Eatonville’s BSA Troop 604, and local Cub Scouts were aboard the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department’s marine patrol boat being pulled on a trailer.
Crowd favorite, the Briarwood Pony Club rode by on their steeds, as did other youth and animal groups, such as a charming group from NW Trek.
Also chugging along were a bevy of farm tractors and agricultural floats, reminding everyone of our farming economy.
A surprise marcher was Dave Uberuaga, the outgoing superintendent of Mt. Rainier National Park. Mr. Uberuaga greatly honored the Town of Eatonvilleby his presence – not only because July 4th is arguably the busiest day of the year for the park – but more so since he leaves on July 17 to become the chief of Grand Canyon National Park.
Some new traditions have entered the Eatonville parade, such as the presence of riding lawn mowers and all-terrain vehicles, along with the Mardi-Gras-esque tradition of parade marchers throwing candy to the crowd.
But some endearing traditions are still blessedly maintained, such as allowing bunches of kids to ride their bikes all festooned with flags and crepe paper, reminding most adults of their own youth – and participation in Fourth of July parades long ago.
© 2011 The Mountain News – WA
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