Antique fire trucks are just part of the old-fashioned charm of the Maxwelton Fourth of July Parade. It’s seeking donations to stay afloat. File photo

Antique fire trucks are just part of the old-fashioned charm of the Maxwelton Fourth of July Parade. It’s seeking donations to stay afloat. File photo

Whidbey Island parade struggles to keep afloat

Modern fundraising is being used to help sustain the future of the July Fourth tradition.

MAXWELTON — A century-old neighborhood parade that prides itself on old-fashioned fun is turning to new-fangled fundraising to stay afloat.

A GoFundMe account for the Maxwelton July Fourth parade is seeking $5,000 for the event, a South Whidbey tradition that annually attracts some 2,000 people.

It’s hosted by the Maxwelton Community Club comprised of 200 families in the South Whidbey beach community. Members decided to try online crowd fundraising after reviewing expenses and finding they top $5,000.

“The prices for things have just about tripled,” said organizer B.J. Hoogerwerf. “Without outside help we will not be able to continue this parade.”

Peering down the rising cost of insurance, food, portable toilets, reserve deputy service and shuttle service, club members considered many options.

“We almost canceled it,” Hoogerwerf said. “Then we said, ‘Let’s think this through.’”

Members decided to save money by canceling shuttle buses that had provided free rides from a parking area to the parade route.

“They’ll be no shuttle service,” Hoogerwerf said. “However, there’s still parking at the little brown church. People will have to walk maybe half a mile to the start of the parade.”

Sales from a hot dog booth and $1 buttons had sustained the event for years but can’t anymore, Hoogerwerf said.

“People just don’t realize what it takes to do this,” she added. “I think a lot of people think the county pays for it. They don’t. We do.”

In its 103rd year, Maxwelton’s summer event has managed to retain its authentic rural flavor of yesteryear with antique fire trucks, tractors, hayrides, gunny sack races and goats, pigs and geese walking the parade route.

Generations of families come out, many of them attending reunions that revolve around the event.

The parade is a refreshing spur-of-the-moment unplanned affair. It only accepts entries for 90 minutes before its noon start. Last year, 233 entries ambled down the road for the hour-long procession of flag-waving organizations, floats, vehicles, bicycles and walking groups.

Richard Grubb has been named this year’s Grand Marshal.

There are no bouncy houses for post-parade activities but instead old-time games, such as three-legged races, sack hops and egg tosses.

Hot dogs can be had for $3.

Every year, it sponsors an art contest for children 14 and under to design a button. Many people proudly wear their button collection to show their Maxwelton Independence Day loyalty.

Any profit from the all-volunteer Maxwelton celebration had gone to charity in years past, said Harriet Arnold, who helps coordinates the parade.

“We were able to do that until last year,” she said. “But we can’t afford to do the parade the way we’ve always done it.”

Arnold also set up a Facebook page for the organization.

The Maxwelton Fourth of July Parade always takes place on the actual day of the Fourth of July. This year that’s a Wednesday, which may mean fewer people coming out mid-week, Hoogerwerf predicted.

“But it’s a political year, so maybe they’ll be more parade entrants.”


This story was first pulished in the South Whidbey Record.

More than 200 entrants comprise the Maxwelton Independence Day Parade that’s viewed by an estimated 2,000 people, many coming from off island.

More than 200 entrants comprise the Maxwelton Independence Day Parade that’s viewed by an estimated 2,000 people, many coming from off island.

Maxwelton Community Club organizers Harriet Arnold (left) and B.J. Hoogerwerf.

Maxwelton Community Club organizers Harriet Arnold (left) and B.J. Hoogerwerf.

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