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"A grand, ideal Fourth of July"

"Sometimes I worry about this community, a city councilman commented, as we stood together admiring antique cars in the American Marine Bank parking lot Wednesday morning. There seem to be so many fights of neighbor against neighbor. But then the Fourth of July comes along, he mused, everybody gets together, and there's not a bad thought anywhere.Just as the tumblers have all fallen into place for the Mariners this year, everything went right this past week for our town's biggest bash. The Rotary Auction and Rummage, a rain magnet in some years past, had clear, warm and dry sailing, and raised a record $208,500 (and still counting) - a 15 percent boost over last year. The Helpline House golf tournament, moved to Sunday for the first time, garnered another $6,400, as the Wing Point professionals bested Meadowmeer and took home the trophy for a third consecutive year. Team Winslow's July 3 street dance, a success last year despite rain and cold, was even better attended under the clear and starry skies. And the Grand Old Fourth was ideal -- warm even for the pancake breakfast, but not too hot for the parade.What a parade it was. Fewer politicians, and more community groups. Music from Ralph Munro's bagpipers, John Rudolph's Dixieland Band, the BHS marching band and the Unity Church singers, among others. Lots of dogs. And lots of kids.As always, there were some impromptu entries. And a number of folks drifted up and down the parade route while it was under way, so it sometimes wasn't easy to tell what was parade and what was not.One of the things we particularly like about island life is the abundance of metaphor, the way our visible physical boundaries can prod us to direct our energies inward - toward the community and one another - rather than outward.We found the parade to be an appropriate metaphor for our community life. We march in different tempos to different tunes on Bainbridge. We're not a model of precision or tidiness. Sometimes we're marching, sometimes observing, sometimes meandering in between.But we're all part of the parade, whether we're marching down Madison Avenue waving at our friends and neighbors, or sitting on the curb waving back. Disagreements are forgotten as we rejoice in the simple essence of community life, of knowing and being known.With apologies to Dickens, perhaps we on Bainbridge should try to keep the Fourth of July in our hearts all year long. We will have our disagreements, to be sure, and they involve serious issues. But there's a time and place for that -- the city council chambers, neighborhood meetings and, as a last resort, a court of law. If we can leave the bad thoughts behind for a day, why not for a week or a month or whenever we're not actively engaged in working through the problem?We don't need an inflated eagle and blocked-off streets to have a parade -- we have one every day on Winslow Way, in T&C and Safeway, and on the ferry. And we don't need a calendar showing the Fourth of July, to come together as one community. "

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