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Fourth of July preparations getting off the ground
KINGSTON With the advent of June and sunnier days, Kingston residents are starting to organize their plans for Fourth of July. This will likely include a visit to Tiny Town for the kids, poking around the Kingston Farmers Market and elbowing in for a prime spot on the route of the oldest running Independence Day parade in the state.
Before any of that can happen, all of the activities must first be planned and funded. Pete DeBoer, who has led the Fourth of July charge for several years, is at full speed in hopes of making this years celebration amazing.
The plans are coming along great, he said. Well have the posters out this week. Were not seeing a lot of the big businesses yet, but we have been receiving smaller donations, people writing checks for $100 and small businesses donating.
The festival will probably be smaller than usual because Independence Day lands on a Wednesday this year, but DeBoer said plenty of activities will still entice residents and visitors downtown. Tiny Town, the ever popular childrens area located at the Ed Moon baseball field will be in full swing July 3 and 4 with plenty of rides, booths and arts and crafts, said Tiny Town organizer Debbie Anderson.
Just the evening activities, she said of new events added this year. On July 3, from 6-9 p.m. were going to have a street dance. The band Been There, Done That will perform 70s, 80s and 90s tunes, and the whole family is invited.
The professional fireworks show is still in the works, DeBoer said, and sponsors are being sought to help offset costs, but its expected to light up the night without a hitch.
In an effort to reduce the number of residents lighting off their own fireworks, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue is offering a pledge for people to sign, said NKF&R public information officer Michele Laboda. With every pledge turned in, NKF&R donates $5 to the professional show held over the Kingston Marina. This year, Laboda has sweetened the pot by adding in the chance for two residents who sign pledges to ride in the NKF&R firetruck during the Kingston parade.
We wanted to see if it increases interest, she said. Weve found the idea of rewarding has people engaging in safe behavior, its been successful.
NKF&R has been donating up to $500 to the Kingston fireworks show for about five years. Several pledges have already been turned in, Laboda said, and she is hoping for many more.
In the meantime, Fourth of July merchandise, including hats and buttons designed by Wolfle Elementary fifth grader Tatianna Finch, are available at local businesses. DeBoer said he is hopeful this year will come together as well as past celebrations.
to 8,000 visitors to and from their vehicles rapidly after the fireworks display ends, Nesby said.
To their credit, Third of July co-organizers Mike McLaughlin and Sandra Peterson have made some positive changes to the event, but those havent alleviated the overriding concerns of many downtown business owners, he said.
Weve had several reservations that were booked months in advance be cancelled when they found out there was going to be compromised access to downtown, Nesby said. Ive already had 12 cancellations on that day.
In the past, his customers have been dropped off on Front Street, while the driver found a parking space and then walked to the restaurant, he said.
Downtown property owners appreciate and understand the need for pedestrian safety, but they also look at the Third of July as a big sales day, Nesby said.
However, Poulsbo City Councilman Mike Regis offered a different view on the limited access to downtown during the event.
This is the best traffic management plan weve seen in all the times of doing the Third of July, Regis said. This eliminates the conflict between pedestrians and vehicles.
Fewer cars downtown will make the event safer overall for the thousands of visitors who will be inundating downtown on foot, he said.
Downtown will actually benefit from it, Regis said.
As for the newly planted grass in Waterfront Park, which was part of the recently completed renovation project to the park and bulkhead, Mayor Kathryn Quade said no decision had been made on its accessibility as of Thursday morning.
During Viking Fest in late May, an annual event that draws upwards of 30,000 visitors to Poulsbo, certain sections of the grass were cordoned off and the traditional Viking Village was shifted to the fire pit near the Sons of Norway lodge.
Hopefully, theyll be able to use it, Quade said. Were going to walk it on Monday, but no decision has been made yet.
For Regis, access to the grass isnt an issue for the Third of July festivities.
I see no reason people cant be on the grass in their park, he said. I think it will tolerate the one-day event.
When the city selected the type of grass for the park, it selected one that is designed to handle extensive wear and tear, he said.
Its public tough, and its meant to be used by the public, Regis said.