By Pat Jenkins
Just because the Fourth of July is on a Tuesday this year, taking away a customary long holiday weekend for many, doesn't mean Eatonville won't still be the epicenter in south Pierce County for celebrating America's independence.
The town’s annual Independence Day celebration will again be spread over two days. It will start July 3 with a free fireworks show and entertainment – including musical performances by an Army band and The Brothers Rowe –from 6 to 10 p.m. on the grounds of Eatonville Middle School. Food and vendors will also be part of the event. And the next day, the Fourth of July, a parade through downtown will start at noon.
The two-day hullabaloo has been a tradition in Eatonville for 16 years, largely through financial support and organizational efforts of community members. It has “something for everyone,” said Alana Smith, president of the Eatonville Chamber of Commerce, which is the event’s sponsor this year.
An important element of the two days is the support of financial donations. “People are always ready to contribute” toward the $10,000 cost of putting on the event, including the professional fireworks, portable toilets, insurance and permits, Smith said. “We want to keep this a free event, and how we do this is through donations and selling raffle tickets.”
For $1 a ticket, raffle participants have a chance to win a 1998 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck – donated -- with 164,000 miles on the odometer. Tickets are on sale at Arrow Lumber, Bruno’s restaurant, Rainier Connect, the Eatonville Community Center and the All About You beauty salon.
The Chamber of Commerce is grateful for the businesses, individuals and organizations that have helped make this year’s event possible with “a lot of work and dollars,” Smith said, adding, “These events are important to get communities together.”
There also is an economic plus for the town. Last year’s festival drew an estimated 4,000 people, a turnout similar to previous years. “More spectators bring in more money for local businesses,” Smith noted.
A couple other things to know about this year’s event:
- For the fireworks show and other activities at the middle school on day one, all school rules – including no smoking and no alcohol – will be in effect.
- On day two, streets on the parade route, including Mashell Avenue, will be closed starting at 11:45 a.m.
Oh, and the Independence Day holiday falling on a mid-week day will continue for a couple more years. July 4 will be on Wednesday in 2018 and Thursday in 2019.