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Busy weekend, crowded streets, but business as usual on the Fourth of July weekend

Top photo from left, Olivia Schatz, 13, and Madden Shanks, 12, compete in the three-legged race at the Pig War Picnic, presented by the Kiwanis Club on the San Juan Historical Museum grounds. The post-Fourth of July Parade picnic featured games, live music, historical presentations and picnic fare. Other games included egg toss (that
Top photo from left, Olivia Schatz, 13, and Madden Shanks, 12, compete in the three-legged race at the Pig War Picnic, presented by the Kiwanis Club on the San Juan Historical Museum grounds. The post-Fourth of July Parade picnic featured games, live music, historical presentations and picnic fare. Other games included egg toss (that's Ryan Cole in the second picture, taken after another win), and bucket brigade. Bottom photo, we didn't get the name of this child, enjoying music by the Rhythmatics.
— image credit: Richard Walker

Fourth of July marks the beginning of the busiest part of summer on San Juan Island, and this year was no exception. Hotels were booked solid, restaurants had lines out the door, and crowds flooded the streets for the parade.

However, while the weekend didn't disappoint in relation to years past, it wasn't out of the ordinary for local hotels and businesses.

"We did about as well as last year," said Sam Jacobson, marketing director of Roche Harbor Resort. "As always, there was a huge amount of people at the resort."

Roche Harbor marina and resort accommodations were booked solid from July 2-4. The resort also saw an increase in participation in its Fourth of July activities and games, like the log-rolling competition and the blind dinghy race.

Jacobson was encouraged by the results of the weekend, especially because the Fourth was on a Saturday this year — "the worst possible day for the holiday to fall on." Because weekends are already so busy, it is most financially beneficial for the Fourth to fall mid-week.

It was a similar story for other hotels on the island. Greg Zervas, marketing director for the San Juan Island Bed and Breakfast Association, said the Fourth was busy, but no more so than years past. "It was like any other Fourth of July weekend." he said.

Most of the bed and breakfasts were completely full for the weekend.

"It's always a successful time for everybody," Zervas added.

While business may not have been out of the ordinary, consumption was high. Town Administrator King Fitch looks at water usage as an indicator of tourist traffic. "Over the weekend, we were using 500 gallons per minute," Fitch said. "We haven't been doing that in the last couple of years."

During the summer, town water users usually consume about 250-300 gallons per minute. Based on town utility estimates, there were about 15,000-20,000 people in town.

The ferry terminal noted that the number of cars and foot passengers getting on the ferry for this Fourth was greater than usual. About 3,760 people got on the 10:25 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. departures from the island Sunday. Also, the celebration of this centennial Fourth was especially impressive.

"It was the largest parade crowd in recent history," said Debbie Pigman of the Chamber of Commerce. Zervas and Pigman said this year's fireworks show garnered significant praise from visitors to the island. "Person after person came up to me and said how spectacular the fireworks were this year," Pigman said.

Only time will tell how businesses do post-Fourth of July, during what Jacobson calls "haymaking season." However, if the holiday is a harbinger of things to come, the rest of the summer should meet businesses' expectations.

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