Antique fire trucks are just part of the old-fashioned charm of the Maxwelton Fourth of July Parade. It’s seeking donations to stay afloat. File photo

Antique fire trucks are just part of the old-fashioned charm of the Maxwelton Fourth of July Parade. It’s seeking donations to stay afloat. File photo

Whidbey Island parade struggles to keep afloat

Modern fundraising is being used to help sustain the future of the July Fourth tradition.

MAXWELTON — A century-old neighborhood parade that prides itself on old-fashioned fun is turning to new-fangled fundraising to stay afloat.

A GoFundMe account for the Maxwelton July Fourth parade is seeking $5,000 for the event, a South Whidbey tradition that annually attracts some 2,000 people.

It’s hosted by the Maxwelton Community Club comprised of 200 families in the South Whidbey beach community. Members decided to try online crowd fundraising after reviewing expenses and finding they top $5,000.

“The prices for things have just about tripled,” said organizer B.J. Hoogerwerf. “Without outside help we will not be able to continue this parade.”

Peering down the rising cost of insurance, food, portable toilets, reserve deputy service and shuttle service, club members considered many options.

“We almost canceled it,” Hoogerwerf said. “Then we said, ‘Let’s think this through.’”

Members decided to save money by canceling shuttle buses that had provided free rides from a parking area to the parade route.

“They’ll be no shuttle service,” Hoogerwerf said. “However, there’s still parking at the little brown church. People will have to walk maybe half a mile to the start of the parade.”

Sales from a hot dog booth and $1 buttons had sustained the event for years but can’t anymore, Hoogerwerf said.

“People just don’t realize what it takes to do this,” she added. “I think a lot of people think the county pays for it. They don’t. We do.”

In its 103rd year, Maxwelton’s summer event has managed to retain its authentic rural flavor of yesteryear with antique fire trucks, tractors, hayrides, gunny sack races and goats, pigs and geese walking the parade route.

Generations of families come out, many of them attending reunions that revolve around the event.

The parade is a refreshing spur-of-the-moment unplanned affair. It only accepts entries for 90 minutes before its noon start. Last year, 233 entries ambled down the road for the hour-long procession of flag-waving organizations, floats, vehicles, bicycles and walking groups.

Richard Grubb has been named this year’s Grand Marshal.

There are no bouncy houses for post-parade activities but instead old-time games, such as three-legged races, sack hops and egg tosses.

Hot dogs can be had for $3.

Every year, it sponsors an art contest for children 14 and under to design a button. Many people proudly wear their button collection to show their Maxwelton Independence Day loyalty.

Any profit from the all-volunteer Maxwelton celebration had gone to charity in years past, said Harriet Arnold, who helps coordinates the parade.

“We were able to do that until last year,” she said. “But we can’t afford to do the parade the way we’ve always done it.”

Arnold also set up a Facebook page for the organization.

The Maxwelton Fourth of July Parade always takes place on the actual day of the Fourth of July. This year that’s a Wednesday, which may mean fewer people coming out mid-week, Hoogerwerf predicted.

“But it’s a political year, so maybe they’ll be more parade entrants.”


This story was first pulished in the South Whidbey Record.

In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More than 200 entrants comprise the Maxwelton Independence Day Parade that’s viewed by an estimated 2,000 people, many coming from off island.

More than 200 entrants comprise the Maxwelton Independence Day Parade that’s viewed by an estimated 2,000 people, many coming from off island.

Maxwelton Community Club organizers Harriet Arnold (left) and B.J. Hoogerwerf.

Maxwelton Community Club organizers Harriet Arnold (left) and B.J. Hoogerwerf.

More in Northwest

Photo courtesy of 4Culture
Local artists wanted to design limited-edition ORCA Cards

Applications due by 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 5.

Photo via Pexels
King County residents needed for first respiratory study using Apple watches

UW study to help find if devices can detect early warning signs of acute respiratory infections, such as COVID-19 and flu.

Photo courtesy of Johnson and Johnson (
Johnson & Johnson vaccine halted in Washington over side effect

Following federal guidance, Washington health care providers are temporarily pausing Johnson &… Continue reading

File Photo
High court ruling spurs effort to retool state’s drug laws

Meanwhile, the Blake decision has gotten people out jail, charges dismissed and possibly clemency for some.

Help wanted sign in the window. File photo
State releases February unemployment data

February unemployment in King County sat at 5.3%, which marked a decrease… Continue reading

Guns seized during April 7 arrests (photo credit: Dept. of Justice)
More than 20 arrested across the Puget Sound in drug distribution conspiracy

DOJ says law enforcement agencies seized over 70 guns and hundreds of thousands in cash.

Sheriff’s office wants help identifying Green River killer victim

Staff reports In 2003, Gary Ridgway, Washington’s notorious Green River killer, pleaded… Continue reading

file photo
King County municipal courts offer limited time warrant amnesty program

The program is intended to mitigate court backlog of warrants during pandemic.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. File photo
King County needs more lawyers to attack backlog of cases

6,107 open cases is double the normal amount for King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Public Health – Seattle & King County staff administering COVID-19 vaccine to a local emergency responder. COURTESY PHOTO, Public Health-Seattle & King County
Starting April 15, everyone 16 and older is eligible for a vaccine

Gov. Inslee said an expected increase in vaccine supply enables the state to open eligibility.

Stock photo
Those who switched to telework have higher income, education and better health

U.S. Census Bureau report breaks down the numbers nationwide

A CVS pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Phase Finder for vaccine eligibility to be eliminated March 31

Eligibility verification via Phase Finder no longer required for appointments, vaccinations beginning this week.