Itwas a fun and safe Independence Day in Blaine and BirchBay...

Published on Thu, Jul 7, 2005 by ack Kintner

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It was a fun and safe Independence Day in Blaine and Birch Bay...

By Jack Kintner

“Thanks to a lot of people, it all worked out OK,” said Blaine police chief Mike Haslip, reviewing incidents following last Monday’s Old Fashioned Fourth of July celebration. Haslip said this year’s event was the best attended Independence Day event Blaine has had for many years, although he said he couldn’t know for sure how many people appeared downtown and at the evening fireworks show.

“I know it took well over a half hour just to untangle traffic at Semiahmoo after the fireworks,” Haslip said.

Earlier, people stood five and six deep along most of the half-mile parade route. Hundreds of contestants, parents and skateboard fans gathered around the new Blaine Skatepark which sported a fresh coat of blue paint. The afternoon skate competition there marked the park’s official opening. Blaine policeman Jon Landis called the beginning of the event with a wireless mic from the middle of the skate park.

Local pro rider and park workhorse Andrew Ryser, along with some friends in the business he recruited for the day, performed exhibitions on BMX bikes that defied both logic and gravity likened to watching Peter Pan in dreads. (Imagine a bike filled with helium as they soared into the air, showing the crowd just what could be done with the various ramps in this park that so many have had a hand in creating.)

The show and shine for old and or unique – or just plain cool – cars and trucks attracted a third more entries than last year, and along with the skatepark activities it kept people and families around town to enjoy the street fair longer than in previous years.

Perennial fireworks coordinator Pam Christianson said she was happy with both the turnout and the display, and said the $13,000 extravaganza is one of the biggest hand-lit displays the company does. The company has been putting on Blaine’s fireworks show for many years. Two hours before it began, parking was nearly gone on and around Marine Drive.
Jim Rutherford, chief of Whatcom County fire district 13, said there were no serious incidents this time at either Semiahmoo or on Marine Drive.

“Our philosophy is simple in that we smother the fires with firefighters,” he said.

Rutherford was one of several firefighters from the department who stood watch on Marine Drive where technicians produced the evening’s fireworks show.

Last year, at least one Blaine house burned as a result of irresponsible fireworks use. The incident nearly cost the homeowner and a friend their lives. At Semiahmoo, only one Blaine policeman had been assigned to patrol what turned out to be several thousand people who gathered to watch the fireworks.

This year, despite increase attendance, incidents decreased because of careful planning and cooperation with different agencies, Haslip said.

“It was a combination of the articles in the paper and agencies working in cooperation with the Blaine police, the Whatcom County sheriff’s department, North Whatcom Fire and Rescue Services, Whatcom County Parks, Semiahmoo security, and Port of Bellingham security,” he said.