Each year, island animals are a favorite of parade watchers, whether they’re of the dachshunds-on-parade variety or the pirates-on-the-plunder kind.
Either way, animals account for many smiles as parade participants promenade down Spring Street. Why not make them the official theme for this year’s parade?
Which is exactly what parade organizers Lin and Pam Pearson did. “Island Animals on Parade” is the theme.
And then the Pearson’s had to come up with a grand marshal.
Easy, Lin Pearson thought.
“First, there were animals, and then came Dodie,” Pearson said. “For some reason, when I think of animals, I think of Dodie.”
That would be Dodie Gann — pilot, Olympic skier, animal lover and board member of the Animal Protection Society, wife of author Ernie Gann. You know, the irrepressible, illimitable, ungroundable Dodie Gann.
“She was one of the pioneers in the Animal Protection Society,” Pearson said. “She
is fabulous. Dodie’s involvement and commitment has always been in that area. This is a good way to honor her.”
“How ’bout that?” Gann said when she found out she’d been chosen for the honor of grand marshal.
“I think that’s when they choose the oldest cat in town – or dog, I think … I think I would have to be some old mongrel, don’t you think?”
Joking aside, Gann’s contribution to animal welfare on the island is significant.
“Dodie? She’s always there,” Joan Schwinge, pioneer of the local animal shelter, said. “She is always positive and contributes in as many ways as you can imagine. She’s always had shelter dogs — big ones. She’s kept us going with a lot of wisdom and ideas.”
Expect lots of animals on parade for this year’s Independence Day celebration. And floats. And painted faces and smiles enough to make your face hurt. It starts at the usual time, 10:30 a.m., up at Hartman Field and continues down Spring Street into the center of town.
Immediately following the parade is the annual Pig War Picnic on the San Juan Historical Museum grounds. This year, it’s being presented by the Friday Harbor Kiwanis Club. The event was presented by the museum until last year, when the San Juan Island Fire Department presented the event. The Kiwanis Club now has a five-year agreement with the museum to present the event on the museum grounds.
Admission is free; any donations will help fund Kiwanis’ student scholarships and other programs.
Ordering lunch will be easier and lines should be speedier too. For $5, you get your choice of barbecued pork sandwich or sausage hot dog, with cole slaw, chips and a pickle. Ice cream, pop and water are extra.
A lot of community organizations are teaming up to provide fun-filled family activities: Bucket brigade (District-3 firefighters), dunk tank ,, egg toss and three-legged race (Island Rec), face painting (Soroptimist), and pie-eating contest (Kiwanis). The cake walk will be back too.
“It’s a very affordable family affair,” organizer Stephanie O’Day said. “Bring your lawn chair and a blanket.”
And be ready to dance. Headlining are the One More Time Band, Devorah with Geoffrey Castle, and the newest local band, Anthemology. That band features Avery Adams, Shay Byington, Chris Carter and Miles Cobos.
The event will have a historic flavor. National Park historian Mike Vouri will take the stage with Mike Cohen and Darlene Wahl of Sugar on the Floor to present some Pig War-era music, followed by “The Pig War Story” — it’s a free preview of the larger “Life and Times of Gen. George Pickett,” which is scheduled the next day at 7:30 p.m. in the San Juan Community Theatre.
Also at the Pig War Picnic, there will be historical reenactments and volunteers dressed in period clothing. Parade awards will be presented at 1 p.m. You can also tour the museum’s buildings, some of which date to the 1890s.
This year’s picnic sponsors are King’s Thriftway, Browne Home Center, Islanders Bank, Countrywide Home Loan, Rock Island Communications, Sound Financial Planning, Inc., Post San Juan and The Journal of the San Juan Islands.
Friday Harbor’s fireworks show is at dusk, at Friday Harbor Marina.
Roche Harbor will present a long slate of Independence Day events.
Starting at 9 a.m., in front of the Hotel de Haro, there will be a July 4 Fun Run, an event of indeterminate length (but not too long). Between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., there will be kids’ games on the lawn near the pool, followed by a donut-eating contest at 1:30 on the west lawn.
At 3:30 p.m., the madcap blindfolded dinghy race takes place on the backside of the original main guest dock. It’s pretty well enclosed, so competitors won’t be able to stray into trouble.
At 4 p.m., the annual log rolling contest will take place beside the fuel dock.
“When Brent Snow announces the log-rolling contest, it’s hard to say what’s more fun — Brent’s announcing or the contest,” said long-time employee Pat Carver.
At 4:30 p.m., Snow will announce the winner of the honorary mayor’s race. Ballots are available at the fuel dock and in the marina office. Balloting opens at 9 a.m. No telling how many times you can vote.
Evening events at Roche Harbor include the announcement on the west lawn of who won the boat decorating contest, at 6:30 p.m.. There will be live music all day and long into the night.
Roche Harbor’s culminating event for the day will be the 10:30 p.m. fireworks display.