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The Fourth on the Islands
Lurching from one near disaster to another...
If fireworks really turn you on, here is the place to maximize your Fourth of July pyrotechnic fix.

Come to the San Juan Islands for the Fourth of July weekend. This year, with the fourth on Thursday, you could get a preview of what was in store the night before with a visit to Deer Harbor. Their display was as big and as long as the amount of money they can raise from local residents and volunteers, usually about $10,000 worth of very loud noises.

On the night of the Fourth, you can have your choice of elaborate fireworks at either Eastsound on Orcas Island, Roche Harbor or Friday Harbor on San Juan Island or Fisherman’s Bay on Lopez Island. You can tie up in front of the customs dock at Friday Harbor and be right up front for a long barrage of noise and pyrotechnics.

The accommodations for this spectacular weekend throughout the San Juan Islands are taken months in advance so make your reservations early. All of the islands have camping space and if you are a hardcore camper remember that the islands will be crowded, so if the parks are full just watch the fireworks from your parking place on a quiet road somewhere.

All the islands have great parades, but let’s not forget the fifth of July. You need a boat to get to Crane Island for the best fifth or sixth of July parade imaginable.

Years ago someone bought Crane Island for $65,000 and subdivided it into 64 lots that he sold initially for $3,500 each. The owner probably made some money on the deal but he created a 64-unit condominium-like collection with current sales prices in the middle six figures. As a result, the owners are very diversified economically and personality-wise. Dick and Nancy Clark are super unusual, in the best sense of the word. They were one of the original buyers at the low price. Nancy was a champion of the Seattle Tennis Club for years and later taught tennis to young people for years. This is why Dick built Nancy the only grass tennis court on Crane Island. The tennis court is the perfect place to have the world’s greatest Fourth of July party on the fifth of July for everyone on the island and their friends.

Before the parade starts everyone on the island gathers around the leading vehicle, the fire truck, and sings the national anthem. We sang this year to a melody strummed on a ukulele by someone who just spent a week on the beach at Waikiki.

There are more people in the parade than there are spectators. Anything on Crane Island that has wheels or an engine; a lawnmower, tractor or a bicycle is in the parade. Mike and Lee Brown drove over from Big Double Island in their landing barge with their combination dump truck-golf cart for the parade. Jim Johansen has the only original, stainless steel, New York City hot dog cart on Crane Island. They got rid of the entire batch of 164 hot dogs they warmed up.

Someone said that next year they are going to hire the antique airplane ride and fly high over all of the fireworks and see if they can take all of them in, during a two-hour flight. They could see Eastsound, Deer Harbor, Roche Harbor, Friday Harbor and Lopez. If you want to really celebrate the Fourth of July week, the San Juan Islands are the place to be next year. Make your plans early and plan on staying late.

And last year, Sunset Magazine declared Orcas Island to be one of the 10 best places in America to get married. You might try it with free fireworks thrown in if you time that proposal and wedding just right.
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