Arlington celebrates the Fourth of July

ARLINGTON — The afternoon of the Fourth of July in Arlington opened with a brand-new activity and eventually led into a familiar favorite that was observed in a new way.

The Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce’s first-ever “Mini-Marshmallow Madness” drew close to 300 attendees to Legion Park, according to Chamber Executive Director Michael Prihoda.

“Our goal for this year was to get 250 people packed in here and I’m almost certain we got more than that,” Prihoda said, after combatants of all ages alternated between blowing mini-marshmallows through “blasters” and simply throwing them at each other.

Seth Henderson, 18 wound up being the last one untouched by others’ marshmallow ammo, while in the distance shooting contest, Larry Stickney blew away the competition by blowing one mini-marshmallow 83.5 feet from his blaster.

“Political guys are full of hot air,” Stickney laughed.

Clay Meier’s red, white and blue blaster won the best decoration contest, while Michael Nalin was named the best shot, a feat he credited to aiming only for targets that he knew he could hit.

The Kiddies Parade that followed drew nearly 20 entrants, most of them in the “wheels” category, although the “patriotic” and “costume” categories still drew some interest. The Dickson family not only won first place for costumes, with siblings William, Miriam and Elizabeth dressing up in period attire and rolling down Olympic Avenue in a miniature covered wagon as settlers, but sister Anastaya Dickson took second place in the patriotic category for her red, white and blue outfit.

The Grand Parade fell only one entrant short of matching last year’s 76 entries, and featured the regular cavalcade of farm vehicles, veterans, young athletes, Scouts and other community groups, although this year’s six-way mayoral race helped bump up the numbers of the “political” category from last year.

Chris Hoffman has attended the Grand Parade for 15 of the 21 years he’s lived in Arlington, and while he looked forward to seeing his daughter play the flute in the Arlington High School Marching Band this year, he also enjoys watching the fire trucks and old tractors drive past.

“I just like the small town feel of it,” Hoffman said.

Kim Casteel moved to Camano Island three years ago, but the Fourth of July still means returning to Arlington to see her family and take part in its festivities.

“I like my community,” Casteel said. “I love living in Camano, but it doesn’t have the same camaraderie as Arlington.”

Russell Kuro, one of the six surviving World War II veterans who rode in this year’s Grand Parade, simply expressed the hope that the spectators would enjoy it as much as he does. The WWII vets were followed for the first time this year by a trio of Vietnam veterans, including a nurse.

“Darlene [Harrington] and I were both there for the Tet Offensive,” said Dennis Barker, a former Army photographer. “She volunteered to be in. I hope we’ll get more Vietnam vets in for next year’s parade.”

After the parades but before the fireworks, Haller Park was packed with folks who were waiting to watch the Rotary Duck Dash, which sold tickets for 11,921 of its 12,000 rubber ducks, raising $50,330 in the process. Unfortunately, the same swift current on the Stillaguamish River that made that morning’s Pedal, Paddle, Puff Triathlon so quick also made it impossible for the Rotary Club of Arlington to “race” its ducks in those waters.

Thus, for the first time, the ducks competed on dry land this year, as two backhoes dumped them on the grass, and the Duskin brothers teamed up to collect the prize-winners, with Dave blindfolding himself and tossing randomly grabbed ducks into a net held by Dale. Pat Regan, Ryan McDuffy and Jay Van Emelen won the first- through third-place prizes of $5,000, $2,000 and $1,000 each, respectively.

And, of course, the day was topped off with a fireworks display sponsored by the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce.


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