Independence Day means family fun in George
Hundreds and hundreds of people enjoyed Independence Day at George’s Community Park, the 62nd annual George, Washington, Fourth of July celebration.
Kicking off the day’s events was the 30th anniversary of the Cherry Bomb Run. The race director, Elliot Kooy, said there is a lot of work leading up to the race, partly because he gets as many runners registering on the day of the event as before it. Explaining, Kooy said some people want to see the weather on the morning of the Fourth and how they feel before committing to enter the race.
It was about 70 degrees at race time with a lightly overcast sky. The temperature rose to the mid-80s later in the day.
At 8:30 a.m., about 140 runners waited at the start line on West Montmorency Boulevard. After some last-minute instructions from Kooy, at his signal the runners bolted east and quickly turned right, down South Washington Way. They would loop clockwise back to the park, some with big smiles, others with more focus on reaching the finish line.
Ginny Omlin crossed the finish line in 32:33, not bad for the 79-year-old from George. Afterward, Kooy introduced Omlin as the oldest participant in the race.
After the Grand Parade up and down West Montmorency, the patriotic observance began at the stage. Dale Hille sang the national anthem again this year. With the flag raised, Debby Kooy stood at the microphone and talked about the George Community Hall roof project. Work on replacing the entire roof structure might begin in a few weeks if all goes well, she said.
“We are profoundly grateful for those who have been pulling for us along the way,” she said, referring to everyone who donated or helped raise funds.
Kooy then introduced state Sen. Judy Warnick, who had a part in getting some state funding for the roof project and had ridden a horse in the parade earlier. She passed along greetings from Rep. Tom Dent, who couldn’t attend the Fourth in George. In her speech, Warnick related meeting an immigrant in Washington, D.C., who exemplified an admirable patriotic spirit. The man, from Cameroon, loves America, works two jobs and is an Uber driver – working hard to bring his family from Cameroon to the U.S.
Warnick concluded with, “Thank you for celebrating George.”
Kooy added a short speech also, recounting how George was founded initially with the idea to make it like an American colonial town. It would have given people a glimpse of American history.
She introduced the George Citizen of the Year, Courtney Felder, and said Felder brings a lot of energy to her volunteer work in George.
Kooy then introduced Rep. Alex Ybarra, who gave a few remarks. He had run the two-mile race that morning and said he has probably missed the race only three times in its 30-year history. That day, he came in second among men in his age group.
Over at the pavilion, a long line was forming as folks eagerly awaited a piece of the “World’s Largest Cherry Pie” and a slab of vanilla ice cream on top.
The ceremonial first serving of the cherry pie was shared by Citizen of the Year Felder and a visiting dignitary, the director of the Washington state Department of Agriculture, Derek Sandison.
In the afternoon, entertainment at the stage was provided by a magician and musical performers. The band Los Vega was the final act and played until dusk. By then, many folks had taken up spots to the southeast to watch the fireworks – and to fire off their own. The official fireworks show, 11 minutes of booming sprays of light, began at 10 p.m.
By Dave Burgess, email@example.com