Sun, fun and fireworks for the Fourth of July

Published on Wed, Jul 1, 2009 by Jack Kintner

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The annual Fourth of July parade gets underway Saturday at noon in downtown Blaine with the always cheerful Jerry Wolten as grand marshal. Wolten owns and operates the Wolten’s True Value Hardware store and has been a fixture at local athletic events for many years. He is again reserving his parking lot at Clark and Peace Portal Drive for handicapped parking.

Leroy Dougal of Blaine’s Public Works department predicted a bigger turnout than last year’s “because it will be a nice weekend event this time.”

The annual parade drew an estimated 15,000 people last year, roughly three times Blaine’s population. It begins with the traditional pancake breakfast at the Blaine Senior Center from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

“We’ll have the usual assortment of popular attractions beginning right after that, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” said Visitor Information Center director Carroll Solomon, “like the bounce house, pony rides, a huge car show and this year over 20 of the 82 registered vendors will sell food, the most we’ve ever had.”

There will also be a book sale at the library and rides on the Plover down at the harbor. A dockside salmon barbecue hosted by Resort Semiahmoo runs from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. followed by the annual fireworks show over the bay at 10:15 p.m.

Solomon said she hopes to offer a shuttle service between the Cost Cutter parking lot at 1733 H Street and downtown “but I need bus drivers to do this. We need people with a regular chauffer’s license to be available or we can’t offer this service.”

Qualified volunteers should call Solomon at the Blaine Visitor’s Center at 332-6484.

Over 100 entries are expected for the parade, including Miss Whatcom County Chandler Batiste, a sailboat, many antique tractors and the old 1940s American LaFrance fire truck from the Odell Street station, the Blaine Unicycles, the Bellingham Pipe Band and both the Blaine high school and middle school marching bands.

“There will be a lot of cars this year,” said city staff person Cheryl Fischer, who runs the annual show and shine, “and when the parade’s over they’ll fill three blocks, on H Street and along Fourth.” Fischer added that she also expects a higher attendance this year because of the holiday falling on Saturday.

Parade participants are asked to register prior to 11 a.m. Saturday, but preferably by Friday, July 3, to allow organizers to supply parade announcer Jim Jorgensen with details on the entries.

Forms can be picked up at the visitors information center or online at www.blainechamber.com.

Participants will enter the marshalling area by proceeding north on Fourth Street to the intersection with H Street and will then be directed to the line-up first come first served, along G and F streets. Parade entries not yet checked in will be signed up in that area by parade marshals.

Participants are reminded that as a safety measure this year’s candy may not be thrown. It will be passed out to kids by people walking alongside the floats and cars in the parade, but not from vehicles. Spectators are encouraged to park in the school parking lot, behind Big Al’s restaurant and by the old train depot.

The hour-long parade starts at noon and will proceed south on Peace Portal Drive five blocks to Boblett, then east two blocks to Fourth and then will return to the marshalling area.

After the parade a concert will be held for much of the afternoon at the G Street Plaza at G Street and Peace Portal Drive.

The corner of Third and H streets will be the center of the kid’s activities, including the K.I.D.S. Railroad from Jumpin’ Joey’s Bounce House in Lynden, face painting and temporary tattooing.

City officials said Tuesday that due to construction there will be a smaller viewing area for fireworks than normally is available on Marine Drive.

Officials suggest people seek alternative viewing sites such as the G and H Street Plazas and the parklets along Peace Portal Drive. Viewers at Peace Arch Park should leave promptly when the show is over as the park is normally closed at dusk.