Arts and Entertainment

Arlington celebrates the Fourth of July

Arlington resident Florence Pryor, dressed in Fourth of July garb, drives her scooter down North Olympic Avenue during last year’s Fourth of July Grand Parade. - File Photo
Arlington resident Florence Pryor, dressed in Fourth of July garb, drives her scooter down North Olympic Avenue during last year’s Fourth of July Grand Parade.
— image credit: File Photo

Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of the annual Frontier Days Fourth of July celebration in Arlington is how smoothly it manages to happen each year.

“Everyone and no one is in charge of it,” city of Arlington Recreation Coordinator Sarah Higgins laughed. “Each organization handles its own events, but there’s no overall committee.”

Julie Morse, past president of the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce, hopes that locals and visitors alike will make the Frontier Days celebration a full-day event.

“It’s such a huge benefit to the community that touches every resident,” Morse said. “We have people who set up their chairs in the morning for the Grand Parade that afternoon.”

While Morse is proud that the Chamber can bring the Fourth of July fireworks display to the Arlington Boys & Girls Club each year after dusk, she also expressed enthusiasm for its Pedal, Paddle, Puff Triathlon in the morning.

“That’s my favorite one to watch,” Morse said. “These festivities bring so many new people into Arlington for the day.”

Debbie Whitis, treasurer for the Downtown Arlington Business Association and chair of the Arlington Street Fair, which runs from July 8-10, likewise appreciates the family fun that the Frontier Days celebration offers.

“There’s so much going on in that one day,” said Whitis, “The Purse Lady” of Arlington. “It’s a huge event for such a small town. My family is looking forward to it. I think I might even enter my grandkids in one of the parades so they can throw candy out of my purses.”

One new event that both Morse and Whitis are looking forward to on July 4 is the Chamber’s first-ever “Mini-Marshmallow Madness,” from 1-3 p.m. in Legion Park, which began as a bid for a world record.

“The original intention was to get into Guinness for the world’s biggest food fight,” Chamber Executive Director Michael Prihoda said. “But [Guinness has] since decided that they no longer want to be involved in an event that wastes food, if you can even call marshmallows a ‘food.’”

Prihoda explained that most of Legion Park would be roped off for this event, and divided up into different areas for specific age groups.

“They’ll be able to shoot mini-marshmallows at targets with ‘marshmallow blasters,’ which are basically PVC pipes that let you blow marshmallows out with all the force that your lungs can muster,” Prihoda said. “My grandson can shoot a marshmallow about eight to 10 feet, but grown-ups can shoot marshmallows about 30-40 feet.”

“My grandkids have already been practicing for the big marshmallow fight,” Whitis said.

“We’re hoping to get as many as 1,000 people to turn out for this event,” Morse said.

Prihoda assured prospective attendees that the size and softness of the marshmallows ensures that they can’t harm anything that they’re shot at, nor can anything else be shot out of the marshmallow blasters. After the various age groups have had their opportunities to play target practice, the “madness” part of the event begins at 2:30 p.m., with a marshmallow-blasting battle between the participants.

“The Chamber will be selling its own blasters for a small fee, but the event itself is free and open to everyone, from ages 4 to 94, although we’ll look the other way and let in folks who are 95 and 96 too,” Prihoda laughed. “Even though it won’t be for a world record, we’re still trying to get as many people involved as we can.”

Prihoda added that prizes of candy and gift baskets would be awarded to those who did the best jobs of hitting their targets.

Pancake Breakfast

The Arlington Rural Fire Department is hosting its annual Pancake Breakfast at Haller Park to kick off the Arlington Frontier Days Fourth of July celebration. Breakfast begins at 7 a.m. and runs until 10 a.m. For $5 you get pancakes, eggs and sausage. The proceeds from the event go to the Arlington Fire Association.

“I really enjoy doing this for the community,” event organizer and Arlington fireman Rick Isler said. “This is a special day for us all. We have all the festivities leading up to the parades and so our event has become the cornerstone for our community, probably because we feed them.”

Last year the firefighters sold more than 1,000 breakfasts. This year Isler expects the same turnout.

“This year we expect to do at least that number if not way more,” Isler said. “We have a lot of help so we aren’t completely buried.”

More than 25 firefighters, family and volunteers will light up the grill at 5 a.m. in preparation for what is sure to be a busy day of flipping and scrambling.

“It’s fun, but it’s nice when it is over,” Isler said. “We’ve been doing this for either 26 or 28 years, so we’ve become pretty good at it. It can be a very hectic day. But it is a fun time.”

The Arlington Firefighters Association receives 100 percent of the proceeds, all of which go toward various expenditures throughout the year. Over the Christmas holiday the association uses some of its fundraising proceeds to participate in the Adopt-A-Family program as well as other charitable deeds.

“The proceeds allow us to adopt a family during the holidays. They also go toward equipment we might need and they go toward the supplies we use, as well as the quality of sausage we use for the pancake breakfast,” Isler said.

Pedal, Paddle, Puff

As part of the Arlington Frontier Days Fourth of July celebration, the Arlington- Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce is hosting its highly anticipated Pedal, Paddle, Puff Triathlon, beginning at 10 a.m., July 4, at Haller Park. Registration begins at 8 a.m.

“This is a fun event for both the competitors and the people and families who are just out to have a good time,” event organizer Rob Putnam said. “Some of the Iron men and women really compete, and some families like to compete against other families.”

The triathlon covers 15.8 miles of three interconnected routes, including a 5.8-mile biking leg that begins at Haller Park and winds through town. It goes along State Route 530 and down to Jordan Road and then to the boat launch. Competitors will then embark on a 6-mile canoe or kayak ride down the Stillaguamish River. Racers will paddle their way along the South Fork of the Stilly River and then to the beach at Haller Park. The final leg of the triathlon is the 2-mile run that begins at the boat landing. Runners will make their way through Haller Park en route to Division Avenue. They will follow the flags to the west end of the park and eventually head onto SR 530 where they will cross the bridge and make their way back to the finish line at Haller Park.

There are four categories in which contestants can sign up including open team, individual, family and Iron men or Iron women.

Kiwanis Auction

Haller Park will once again serve as the site for two silent auctions and one live auction by the Arlington Kiwanis Club on July 4.

The Arlington Kiwanis Club added an early silent auction to the Arlington Frontier Days Fourth of July celebration two years ago. According to event coordinator David Boulton, the Kiwanis Club put breaks between its 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. silent auctions, as well as its live auction at noon, to allow attendees to drift in and out of each auction, as well as to afford auction organizers opportunities to clean up after each one.

“Scheduling our auctions at these times lets us capture the folks who are already there at Haller Park for the Pancake Breakfast and the Pedal, Paddle, Puff Triathlon,” Boulton said. “The spectators can spend a lot of time waiting for the racers so, in the meantime, they’ll have opportunities to spend some money and support Arlington and Lakewood students.”

Boulton estimated that the Arlington Kiwanis auctions have been going on for the past 15 years, starting across the street from the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce back when its offices were located near Legion Park. He sees the auctions’ current venue, with its proximity to other Frontier Days events, as a way of capitalizing even more on what he deemed an already impressive level of community spirit in Arlington.

“There’s a sense of excitement about all of this in Arlington that you just don’t get from other communities’ festivities,” said Boulton, who singled out area merchants for contributing so generously to the auctions.

“It’s almost all local stuff that’s up for bid, and we like to keep it that way,” Boulton said. “Most of it comes from Arlington and Marysville businesses who have donated their products to this good cause. They’re supporting Arlington, so we want to support them right back. You don’t need to drive down to Seattle to be able to enjoy these prizes.”

Kiddies Parade

The boys and girls of Arlington have an opportunity to upstage their elders. Perhaps that’s what makes an opening act shine.

In cooperation with Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics and the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce, kids 12 and under can take part in the Kiddies Parade in Arlington’s Fourth of July celebration beginning at 4:30 p.m.

“The kids get to lead off the day in their own parade,” said event organizer Kelly Penny, who has spent the past three months organizing and preparing for both the Grand and Kiddies parades. “For the kids, they have a much bigger audience and they love that.”

Last year more than 100 kids participated in parade. Penny believes that number can be easily reached this year.

“This is always a favorite event for the kids,” Penny said. “There will be a great showing. Whenever you can dress up and walk down Olympic it is a fun day.”

Nearly 50 volunteers will be on hand to head-up registration, judge entrants and supervise the order in which participants will begin their tour of downtown Arlington.

There are three themes kids can choose from — costume, patriotic and wheels. In years past, kids decorated their bikes or donned creative costumes and marched or rode down the parade route.

“I remember coming to this parade long before I got involved with organizing it and I had such a good time,” Penny said. “I am proud to be a part of it. We are going to have a great parade this year.”

Registration for the Kiddies Parade will take place at 3:30 p.m., at the Public Utility District building located at 210 Division St.

Printable copies of registration forms can be downloaded off the city of Arlington website, at To reach Penny, people can call her at 360-618-7849, or stop by the reception desk of Cascade Valley Hospital.

Grand Parade

Marching bands, football teams and dance squads have all participated in the Arlington Fourth of July Grand Parade. This year should be much the same as an eclectic collection of entrants will begin their jaunt down Olympic Avenue in celebration of Independence Day beginning at 5 p.m.

Event organizer Kelly Penny believes the more creative an entrant is the more they are remembered. She should know. Penny, who works in cooperation with the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce and the Cascade Valley Hospital, has helped run the parade for the past six years. She also runs the Kiddies Parade.

“This has been a lot of work, but I really enjoy putting this together,” Penny said. “Arlington is such a charming town and I think this parade reaffirms it. The parade is like what you would see in a movie, the perfect small town where everyone knows each other. They all come out in support of the community and that’s what makes it special.”

Penny estimates that more than 100 entries will be received. She pointed out, however, that the number of entries does not exactly reflect the number of participants considering each entrant can have many people involved, either onboard a float or walking the parade path.

Former Arlington High School music teacher Lyle Forde, who retired from Arlington on June 23, after 35 years of service, will serve as the festival’s Grand Parade Marshal.

Parade registration begins at 2:30 p.m. near the Public Utility District building parking lot, located at 210 E. Division St. Entrants cannot participate if they aren’t registered by 4:30 p.m.

Printable registration forms can be downloaded at the city of Arlington website, at or at the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce website, at

An entry fee of $100 will be charged for participation by any political entry or person running for office in the upcoming election. A $25 fee will be charged for all commercial entries.

Duck Dash

The Rotary Club of Arlington not only has a new chair for this year’s “Duck Dash,” but has also received enough support to sport a brand new feature on its tickets.

Linda Byrnes is chairing the annual fundraiser this year, which will once again launch its yellow rubber ducks into the Stillaguamish River near Lincoln Bridge at 7:30 p.m. on July 4.

As always, the roughly 12,000 ducks will finish their “dash” at Haller Park. Cash awards of $5,000 will go to the first-place finisher, $2,000 to second place, $1,000 to third and $100 to the fourth- through 10th-place finishers. The 11th- through 20th-place finishers will receive free Duck Dash T-shirts.

The Arlington Duck Dash has raised more than $600,000 over the years for the Arlington Food Bank, the Stillaguamish Senior Center, the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, and the city of Arlington’s parks, trails and play fields, as well as the Arlington Cocoon House, Kids Kloset, Little League and Boys & Girls Club. Those same Duck Dash proceeds have also funded scholarships for Arlington, Lakewood and Darrington students, as well as Arlington school drama, music and robotics clubs.

According to Byrnes, the Arlington Food Bank has become a fundraising priority for the Duck Dash once more, since construction on the Food Bank’s new facility is set for this year.

“We want to take a leadership role in continuing to support the important programs we’ve already been supporting,” Byrnes said.

Although she acknowledged that staging the Duck Dash is “not inexpensive,” Byrnes credited the sponsors of this year’s Duck Dash with paying for 100 percent of its expenses, which means that 100 percent of the money that’s spent on purchasing each Duck Dash ticket goes directly back into the community.

Tickets can be purchased at the Arlington Pharmacy or at Haller Park after the Grand Parade.  For more information, log onto


The Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce is stocked and loaded for its annual Independence Day fireworks gala. Armed with more than $5,000 worth of pyrotechnics, the Chamber will continue its grand celebration by setting off a wide range of fireworks into the skies above the Arlington Boys and Girls Club.

According to Chamber of Commerce President Michael Prihoda, the show will begin at around 9 p.m. at Quake Field. He estimates that it will last approximately 20-30 minutes in front of what should be a sizable crowd.

“We had a great turnout last year,” Prihoda said. “We had a few hundred people out there on the field and this year we expect to have about the same if not more people. We will have music before the fireworks and then when it gets dark the show will begin. It’s a good time and everyone seems to really enjoy themselves.”

The Chamber uses the tax revenues that it receives from hotels and motels in order to purchase fireworks and other supplies it needs for the event.

“We get a specific amount of money each year,” Prihoda said. “For the past few years we’ve received $5,000 which come from the tax revenues we receive throughout the year. So, we are ready to have a great show.”







We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 22
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.