Sun and fun shine for fjord’s fireworks

POULSBO — Long before fireworks and other pyrotechnics lit up Liberty Bay Sunday, Dr. Wayne Schneider was stirring old memories during Poulsbo’s Third of July celebration.

With a miniature engine and five passenger cars, Schneider made his annual pilgrimage north from Mexico to Little Norway to give children of all ages a fun-filled ride through Anderson Parkway.

“It’s been very nice this year since it’s only the second time in 12 years we haven’t had rain,” Schneider said during a brief stop to unload passengers.

The warm, sunny weather kept a steady stream of parents and kids embarking on the 10-minute journey around Anderson Parkway, he noted.

“Poulsbo’s a nice place, especially when it’s not raining, and I look forward to coming back every year,” he said.

In addition to providing a topsy turvy trip through the parkway, Schneider said he tries to offer a science lesson as well.

“I’ve got a group of dolphins that I swim with every day and I give the kids just a little bit of information about them,” he said, noting that he has a house in Mexico, where spends about four months out of the year.

Even though being the conductor of a miniature train is far removed from his former occupation as a doctor, Schneider said the experience is one he wouldn’t trade for anything.

“It’s a lot of fun and, besides, I’m still a kid myself,” Schneider remarked as he hurried off to take a full load of eager passengers on another journey.

Schneider has been a welcomed addition to the Third of July festivities, explained Third of July organizer Mary Graves.

“He does such a wonderful job and when it’s hot and kids are tired, it gives parents a much-needed break,” Graves said.

While Schneider and his train have been faithful regulars to the event, the eating contests continued to grab everyone’s attention during the middle of the afternoon.

Watermelon came up first as kids put their hands behind their backs and dove headfirst into the juicy summer treat.

“I want each one of you to have fun while you’re doing this,” Miss Poulsbo Janna Murray told the contestants at her table.

Then in a flash, the previously clean table became a watermelon-coated surface as parents and organizers clung to paper plates, while contestants single-mindedly continued their assault.

Once the attack was complete, smiles mirroring the empty watermelon rinds filled the parkway.

“That was fun, but it was kind of messy,” 6-year-old Rachel Gillespie from Bremerton said after competing in the event.

At the conclusion of the eating contests, a quiet hush fell over the crowds of visitors as the Marines Silent Drill Team entered the parkway in resounding silence.

“Last year, some of them were deployed to Iraq, so we welcomed them back with open arms this year,” Graves said.

Having the drill team perform at the event, especially during a time when thousands of servicemen and women are deployed overseas, emphasizes the patriotic nature of the festivities, she commented.

“Not only are they great at what they do, but they’re serving our country and people really appreciate that,” Graves said.

After the Marines amazed the crowd of spectators circled around them, people continued flooding into Anderson Parkway to find the perfect spot for the nightcap of the event.

Before the much-anticipated fireworks display over Liberty Bay, Pyrosutra, a firedancing group from Seattle, demonstrated a unique blend of acrobatic agility and firehandling prowess.

At the end of their routine, booms filled the air as a fireworks danced across the night’s sky bringing an end to the 17th annual Third of July celebrations.

Judging by the oohs and aahs during both the firedancing and fireworks, Graves couldn’t help but smile at night’s end.

“Overall, it was a fantastic success and we couldn’t have asked for more,” Graves said.

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