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Arlington has a blast celebrating 4th of July

After the winning ducks in the Duck Dash are selected, Arlington Rotarians still have to retrieve the thousands of other floating rubber ducks in the Stillaguamish River.   - Kirk Boxleitner
After the winning ducks in the Duck Dash are selected, Arlington Rotarians still have to retrieve the thousands of other floating rubber ducks in the Stillaguamish River.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — Pancakes, auctions, ice cream, parades and fireworks were on tap for those who took part in this year’s Arlington Fourth of July Festival, which included both new features and familiar favorites.

Pancake breakfast

The all-volunteer Arlington Heights Fire Department took their dedication a step further, volunteering to get out of bed July 4 to serve pancakes to more than 1,000 Arlington residents.

“It’s a lot of work,” said association president Daniel Britton, who helped lead the effort. “I was here this morning at 5. It takes a good month of preparation to pull this off.”

The more than 20 firefighters were joined in many cases by wives and children, who flipped cakes, cracked eggs and dolloped out strawberries and whipping cream to the hungry masses.

Pancakes are just the beginning of the day for Bob Robinson, a Phoenix resident who comes up every year for the festival and visits with his son, Steve.

“We have a barbecue over at my granddaughter’s house, then we usually go to the parade,” Robinson said. In past years, he added, he and his family would stay nearby in a motor home to watch the fireworks.

“This year went extremely well,” Britton said of the overall feed. “It started out steady.”

Britton added that George Willis of Silvana Meats donated all of the sausage consumed at the Haller Park meal.

Scholarships auction

The Arlington Kiwanis Club added an early silent auction to their annual Arlington Festival auction, helping to bring in $8,500 for scholarships benefitting Arlington and Lakewood high school graduates.

“Basically, there are a lot of people who come early to the pancake breakfast and we wanted to give them an opportunity to have items available to them too,” said auction coordinator Sue Weiss. The early auction had items intended to target these early birds, who often have plenty of plans on July 4 — pizza and restaurant gift certificates and Arlington sports paraphernalia.

At the live auction, several items got bidders excited, but nothing seemed to compare to the competition for a U.S. flag honoring Arlington resident Kay Duskin.

“Every year that I’ve attended, there’s a flag that upon the request of (Rep.) Rick Larsen is flown over the Capitol in honor of a local citizen,” Weiss said. “It’s been flown over the U.S. Capitol. That’s a really cool thing and it’s in honor of someone who has done a lot and been a big part of the community.”

The flag alone raised $500.

“Her husband won it after a heated bidding process,” said board member Jan Bauer. “It was a kick.”

Raising another $500 was the 50-50 raffle, in which organizers sell tickets and split the pot with the winner.

After raising $10,000 last year and $8,000 two years ago, Weiss said the community’s support in the tough economic times impressed her.

“This year we raised over $8,500, which I am ecstatic over considering the economy,” she said.

Ice cream-eating contest

Some 20 competitors took advantage of a half-gallon of Neapolitan ice cream to beat the Fourth of July heat.

Local Scoop owner Bev Angerbauer hosted about 10 competitors in a youth category and another 10 in a 12-and-up competition where those afflicted with a sweet tooth sought relief in the five minutes they were given to eat as much ice cream as possible.

“It was a huge success,” said Angerbauer, who took over the contest along with the business two years ago. “I think we only had seven contestants last year, so we tripled our turnout.”

Eleven-year-old Elli Mosasky won the youth contest, holding off a tough field of contestants. Travis Wold won the adult division.

Kiddies Parade

It was their first year as the lead-in for the Grand Parade and the Arlington Fourth of July Festival Kiddies Parade drew close to 100 children as entrants, slightly behind its scheduled start time of 4:30 p.m. on Olympic Avenue.

Kiddies Parade Chair Jonna Dickison, of the Arlington Fire Department Women’s Auxiliary, expressed the hope that the Kiddies Parade’s new date and time will prove popular enough to become a new community tradition so that the Kiddies Parade can be more fully integrated into the rest of the Arlington Fourth of July Festival’s events.

While previous years’ Kiddies Parades included award categories for groups, floats and pets, Dickison explained that this year’s Kiddies Parade has been narrowed down to its three most popular categories of costumed, patriotic and “wheels” entrants.

“With the economy, we really wanted to streamline it and scale it back a bit, especially with the expense of buying trophies,” Dickison said. “By having the Kiddies Parade right before the Grand Parade, we’re also cutting back on police expenses, since they don’t have to close the street two different times for two different events.”

Grand Parade

The 116th Arlington Fourth of July Festival Grand Parade kicked off shortly after 5 p.m. on Olympic Avenue, and after four years of Cascade Valley Hospital sponsoring the event, Grand Parade Coordinator Kelly Penny noted that there are relatively few obstacles left in staging such a spectacle.

“The hardest thing about today is the heat,” Penny said July 4. “Still, I’m thankful it’s not raining.”

Penny estimated that this year’s Grand Parade drew approximately 80 entries, “about the same as last year,” which took close to an hour and a half to proceed southbound on Arlington’s main street. Local police, fire and other first responder vehicles were followed by classic cars, restored military rigs and antique tractors, as Arlington Mayor Margaret Larsen shared street space with Grand Parade Marshals Don and Lucy Melchior, the Arlington High School football team and the community’s surviving World War II veterans.

One of the main differences Penny cited between this year and last year was that last year was an election year and, as such, there weren’t nearly as many political entries this year. At the same time, Penny added that she’s seen more and more local community groups stepping up to enter, and even design their own floats.

“We had the Arlington Library last year, along with some horse entries, which there haven’t been a lot of,” Penny said. “The parade is better when you have more variety in the entrants. This year was exciting because we had a group of Civil War re-enactors, who were new to Arlington and very exciting.”

These first-time entrants to the Grand Parade were joined by plenty of longtime local favorites, such as the Scottish Mission Pipe Band that’s come down from Canada for the past two decades. The Cascade Valley Hospital even commemorated its own 100th anniversary with a special float.

Duck Dash

In spite of a town-wide power outage that afternoon, the Rotary Club of Arlington was able to put on its 21st annual Great Stilly Duck Dash with only a slight delay, not long after 7:30 p.m.

Duane Rhodes, of the Arlington Rotary, explained that the Duck Dash is the Rotary’s primary fundraiser for its programs on behalf of young people and seniors, ranging from Camp Fire, the Boy Scouts, Kids Kloset and local high school scholarships to the Stillaguamish Senior Center and the Arlington Food Bank.

Rhodes estimated that between 12,000-14,000 yellow rubber ducks made their way down the Stillaguamish River, from Lincoln Bridge to Haller Park.

The prizes included $5,000 for the first finisher, $2,000 for the second, $1,000 for the third, and the fourth through 10th-place winners each received a $50 gift certificate to a local Arlington business.

Rhodes estimated that the Duck Dash would net between $42,000-$50,000, and praised the Arlington Fourth of July Festival as a whole.

Fireworks

This year marked Loren and Kathryn Murray’s first time coming from their home in Camano Island to see Arlington’s fireworks show.

“Our son is a reserve police officer in Arlington, and he’s been telling us for the past several years that we’ve been missing a pretty spectacular show,” Kathryn Murray said. “We thought we’d try it tonight, especially with such nice weather.”

The Murrays’ son recommended the Arlington fireworks show to his parents based on its display and “relaxing crowd,” something that his father appreciated.

“We’ve done the Seattle thing and fought traffic for hours afterward,” Loren Murray said. “We wanted something a little different this year, without the big crowds.”

William Frankhouser of Arlington has only been married “a few years,” and the Arlington Fourth of July Festival, including the fireworks show, has been a family tradition for three of those years.

The fireworks show marks the conclusion of each year’s Frankhouser family celebration of the Fourth of July, which begins with a barbecue at home, followed by a trip to the Grand Parade.

“I like that they keep it local,” Frankhouser said of the Grand Parade. “Sometimes it’s a little eccentric, but it’s fun to see the John Deere tractors and all the little kids running around.”

Frankhouser is a member of the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce, and donated $50 toward this year’s fireworks show through the Chamber.

“I enjoy that Arlington puts the money and volunteers into putting together a family event for everyone,” Frankhouser said.

Pedal, Paddle, Puff

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