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Where kids, dogs get to show off
With 100 entries expected to line up, the 43rd rendition of Bainbridge Island’s Grand Old Fourth of July parade will be as eclectic as usual.
It always rolls down Madison Avenue first with a good number of hand-waving dignitaries, honorees, public servants, military uniforms, politicians, activists and advertisers in vehicles or on foot.
They dominate the first two dozen paraders before the real fun begins, mostly represented by kids and more kids: roller skaters, rope skippers, belly dancers, swimmers, cheerleaders, gymnasts, bicyclists, ball players, baton twirlers, flag wavers, candy tossers, pooper-scoopers, riders being pulled or carried by horses, or a variety of bands and musicians to entertain the audience lined up for a mile or so.
All of them will do just about anything for applause or a laugh.
And don’t forget the floats, which generally fall somewhere between benign and inane, and are seldom fancy since this is Bainbridge, after all, not Pasadena, Calif. Then throw in a few dozen adorable dogs – especially those cuddly terriers – and you’ve got yourself a parade worth watching.
Putting it all together isn’t always easy – as Chamber of Commerce employees Kevin Dwyer, Betsy Leger and Mickey Molnaire will attest this year. There are some basic rules of order, of course, such as not placing toddlers behind exhaust-spewing vehicles or a high-stepping marching band on the hoofs of the Sheriff’s Posse. And there are always a few special requests for placement, though some of those are, well, ignored.
But the parade has evolved loosely, and practically anyone can enter as long as it passes the “reasonably good taste” standard. And sometimes there will be a couple of entries that fit together even if it wasn’t exactly planned.
As the story goes, for example, islander Randi Morgan decided several years ago to get her West Highland White Terriers – along with some others – in the parade.
That led to Stephanie Kirz, an island native and owner of a couple of Westies at the time, to ask fellow Bainbridge High School classmate Ralph Munro if the dogs could march right behind the Olympia Highlanders, a band of bagpipers that the former Secretary of State has sponsored in the parade for many years.
So now they do. Some 20 leashed terriers (including Scotties and Cairns, among others) and their owners strolled behind the bagpipers in last year’s event and as many are expected to do the same this Sunday.
“Terriers are outgoing and they just love a parade,” said Kirz, who has moved to Arizona and will miss her first parade in many years. “It’s always been so much marching behind the bagpipers. Some of the dogs get all dressed up with outfits, and even kilts. Everybody loves them.”
Hanni Crissey, who has two terriers, said there are about 40 dog owners on the local club’s mailing list.
She said that they started walking around Battle Point Park every Sunday afternoon after they missed a parade a few years back.
“We skipped a parade and the dogs missed each other so we started parading around the park every Sunday,” she said. “They’re very lively dogs and love to play. And they like to show off, too.”
And they’re not the only ones.