July 05, 2004
parades the streets and lights the sky
The Daily Astorian
friends and visitors celebrate the Fourth North Coast style.
The sky above the Columbia River lit up with bursts of color,
off the hills and the crowd “oohed” and “ahhed” as Astoria
celebrated the Fourth of July Sunday with a half-hour long fireworks display.
“It was the best ever, even better than
last year,” enthused nine-year old Kara Howard, visiting
from Vancouver, Wash. She was staying up late on a day filled
with fireworks – she had helped set off Piccolo Petes and
sparklers earlier that day.
“It was pretty good, especially all five
finales,” said Oregon State University student Kirsten
Thoreson, who was driving through the area with friends.
ERSKINE — The
Parade Coordinator Roy Kirkham makes last minutes decisions before
The cluster of whirling rockets and sky-filling sparkles that many
thought was the end of the show was in fact followed by even more
pyrotechnics were lit from a barge behind the Columbia River Maritime
Museum, which hosted booths selling hot dogs and popcorn.
Cotton candy was a popular option, with a line at least 25 people
in the day, Seaside celebrated the nation’s 228th
birthday by harkening back to yesteryear, in the form the Seaside
Old-fashioned Fourth of July parade and social.
“Go slow and have lots of candy to throw,” was
the parade strategy of Lynn Simon. She and her husband, Paul, belong
Tualatin Valley PT Cruiser Club, which joined forces with the North
Coast chapter and entered more than two dozen cars in the parade.
Each was decked out with patriotic streamers, flowers or, in one
The parade started coming together eight months ago, when organizer
Roy Kirkham started mailing out postcards to past participants and
gathering e-mails to put together a plan for this year’s event.
It’s come one, come all,” said Kirkham, who added that
he hasn’t turned anyone away. About 40 groups marched this
year, from city officials to cheerleaders of all ages to candy-tossing
families who just wanted to participate.
Two weeks before the big day, Kirkham starts tweaking a marching
a task that needs all of his Type-A personality skills, said Kirkham,
who has been organizing these parades for 11 years.
A few minutes before the start time, his cell phone was still ringing
with people calling about last-minute changes.
But the parade left the Seaside
Museum without a hitch, and Kirkham
was thrilled that the 12th Street bridge was ready for all the foot
traffic and the parade could stay on its planned route.
a bit of confusion as to their place in line, the Hayshakers square
dance club marched with a caller and a stereo on a wagon.
That way, they can stop and dance at the urging of the crowd, said
the club’s soon-to-be president Kathy Worthington of Warrenton,
though they try to make sure that they don’t hold up the parade.
Nine-year-old Andrew Gooch of Astoria was ready for his role as
part of the Leo Club contingent, with fistfuls of candy wrapped up
in his shirt and his feet on the pedals of a surrey. His favorite
part of the Fourth, though, would come later with the fireworks displays.
I just love the whole small-town thing,” said Seaside resident
Neil Branson, who has watched the parade since the late 1980s. “I
like seeing the little kids in the parade, and seeing them get
their time in the limelight.”
Going to this parade, he said, was becoming something of a family
Some had suggestions for improvements, though. Carol Danish, of
Seaside and Portland, said that although she enjoys the events, she
misses the stronger honor guard presence that led the parade a few
“Now it seems to be for the kids getting candy, rather than
the town getting together to celebrate the independence of the United
States of America,” she said.
For stores along the parade route, the crowds bring good business.
“It’s been a hectic day, but we have a lot of fun,” said
Jessie Hurner, whose parents own Harrison’s Bakery on Broadway.
There was a pre-parade rush for coffee and last-minute snacks, she
said, and the bakery usually sees a jump in business after the parade
Hannah and Lucas Rice of Portland were visiting their grandmother,
who has a house in Seaside. They had no need of post-parade bakery
treats. By the time the last floats drove by, each had collected
a significant mound of sweets.
“Oh, it’s great,” Hannah, age 9, exclaimed. “They’ve
got a lot of different varieties of stuff and they throw candy. I
love the fancy cars.”
7-year-old brother, on the other hand, was more excited about the
parade’s aural qualities.
“I like all the noise,” he shouted as the fire trucks
that brought up the rear of the parade sounded their horns. “I
usually make it,” he admitted. Later, the family was planning
to visit the baby seals at the Seaside Aquarium then head for the
beach for more noise at the fireworks display.
Drinnon cousins had gathered in Seaside from Bremerton, Wash.,
and Portland, but had different ideas of what was best. Jacob liked
the PT Cruisers, while Kristin and Benjamin liked the candy. Megan
liked the cheerleaders, and shyly said she wouldn’t mind joining
them someday. The family has been gathering for the parade for the
last seven years, making some of the children experts.
“Last year’s was longer, but they didn’t have
as much candy,” said Jacob.
the parade was over, they wandered over to the Seaside
the old-fashioned social, where Kristin declared it was her grandmother’s
job to win the cake walk.
weren’t the only one with that idea; the cake walk appeared
to be one of the more popular events.
most people left the game empty handed, Chris Huth of Portland
had a strategy that won him a cake – he used his psychic
“I looked at No. 19, and I said ‘that’s gotta
be the one,’” joked Huth while waiting in line for another
His friend, Hillary Mefferd, was no stranger to the Seaside festivities
either; she roller-bladed in the parade while carrying a flag when
she was 10.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else on the Fourth of
July,” she said.
Content © 2004 The Daily Asorian