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MSNBC lists San Juans' Fourth of July among country's best

The word is out. And thanks to MSNBC, the Fourth of July celebrations in the San Juans are no longer flying under the radar.  - James Krall
The word is out. And thanks to MSNBC, the Fourth of July celebrations in the San Juans are no longer flying under the radar.
— image credit: James Krall

The word is out.

And thanks to MSNBC, the Fourth of July celebrations in the San Juans are no longer flying under the radar. The cable news station recently pegged the archipelago’s festivities as being among the nation’s top 10, rivaling those of Boston, Philadelphia and Mount Rushmore.

But if there was added pressure to perform, you would never have known it in Friday Harbor, as the day-long celebration — from parade to Pig War picnic to the fireworks show — fired on all cylinders. Organizers, sponsors and participants hit every mark in a dress rehearsal for the town’s centennial celebration, which begins early next year.

On Spring Street, the sidewalks were lined by a seemingly-record crowd, three-deep or more in some spots, as Dodie Gann, grand marshal of the Independence Day parade, presided over a flotilla of 60 floats or entries that swaggered along the five blocks of the parade route. That’s about 10 more entries than the year before; Duck Soup took top honors as “Best Float”.

Tips from MSNBC notwithstanding, Tom and Kelly Nguyen already knew Friday Harbor is the place to be on the Fourth. The couple have made the trek from their home in Los Angles, Calif., the past three years after stumbling upon thel festivities in Friday Harbor four years ago. This time they had their 14-month son, Nathan, by their side.

“You don’t get this in L.A.,” Tom said of the flavor of Friday Harbor’s small-town parade. “We don’t have this kind of thing there.”

Ten-year-old Faith Prosser of Seattle was equally impressed.

“It’s the greatest parade I’ve ever seen,” she said. “It’s very well-rounded with a lot of various displays.”

A ravenous crowd descended on the PIg War Picnic on the heels of the parade. The Kiwanis Club, sponsor of this year’s picnic, was down to hot dogs, drinks and a few Dove bars after more than 1,000 lunches were gobbled up in the first hour alone. But club members rallied, restocked and were back in business before the last dog disappeared.

Over at the port of Friday Harbor, Tom Watson and the Time Benders rocked the dock for the seventh-straight year, thanks to the local Rotary Club, and had block-party-goers of all ages entranced and in stitches. The British Columbia-based musical group also conjured up the longest Conga line ever seen on the west coast while paying tribute to four decades of rock ‘n roll with its slightly irreverent and famously on-key performance.

Friday marked the 232nd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The festivities in Friday Harbor, which celebrates its 100th anniversary next year, culminated in a dazzling 30-minute display of fireworks that illuminated the sky and harbor in a cascade of color.

There’s only 360 days more to go.

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