Kingston explodes with patriotic pride

 - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

KINGSTON — Bombs were bursting in the air over Kingston and red, white and blue were a must on any form of clothing for residents and visitors celebrating the 231st Independence Day downtown. From the longest running parade in the state, some say west of the Mississippi, to Tiny Town to the special Kingston Farmers Market and music festival, the North End was hopping during the patriotic holiday.

The two-day event, spearheaded by Kingston resident Pete DeBoer and an army of volunteers, drew thousands of people to Kingston, judging by the line of parked cars stretching from downtown.

“The fireworks. The pancake breakfast,” Sacramento, Calif. resident Pat Grandinetti said of her favorite things about the festival. This was her first year celebrating in Kingston, and she said she would definitely return. “If I’m invited, I’ll come back. You bet I’ll come back.”

Kevin Southerland, who has been in charge of the production crew for the past 17 years or so, led the annual parade as grand marshal, and all entries — from the hula hooping Roller Waitress Rita and the big Kingston Lumber rigs to the royal queens and princesses — were applauded by the gathered crowds. The Kingston High School Buccaneers made their first appearance, already gathering school spirit, and the Kingston Junior High band gave it’s final performance.

“So far, so good,” said Kingston resident Ralph Flewelling. He’s been celebrating the Fourth in Kingston since 1985. “I’ll probably go to the parade and the fireworks. I just have friends visiting. They come down and we’ll be on my boat tonight to watch the fireworks.”

DeBoer said this year’s fireworks show, assisted by an $11,500 donation from the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, put all the previous years to shame, illuminating Kingston’s pride over Apple Tree Cove.

“They just love coming to Kingston,” he said of the professional pyrotechnicians who put on the show each year. “They can’t wait to come back next year. It was, everything was just perfect.”

Children were drawn to Tiny Town, which sported red, white and blue stars and stripes after a paint job last year. Inflatable rides and activities in the miniature store fronts were the main draws for the younger visitors.

“We’re just standing in line trying to figure out how many tickets we want to purchase for Tiny Town,” said Kingston resident Nina Kocourek. She was with her family and two grandsons, who both marched in the parade with the Kingston Co-op Preschool contingent. “We’ve come the last five years. Tiny Town is where the fun lies.”

“The parade, I like the Kingston Farmers Market and the parade is the best excuse to come out and see the farmers market,” said Kingston resident Tom Ogden, who brought his family early Wednesday morning for Tiny Town. “I wish Tiny Town still had the business names though.”

DeBoer credited the holiday’s smooth running to the volunteers who assisted in putting everything together, taking it down and cleaning up once the masses had left. Several of the new KHS football team members were particularly helpful in getting Tiny Town constructed, and a group of teenagers were ready to clean up the fireworks barge after the show had finished.

“I walked the parade route, and I can’t remember the last time I’d seen so many people in Kingston,” DeBoer said.

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