Manchester’s small town Independence Day celebration

Those who love to celebrate American freedom are finding it harder to party on the actual holiday, with grand festivities such as the Bremerton Bridge Blast and Fireworks Over the Sinclair Inlet surrounding this year’s Independence Day.

Yet in an otherwise quiet corner of South Kitsap, Manchester continues to explode into an assortment of red, white and blue in an event that screams small town America.

Carol Kowalski said there’s been a Manchester Kid and Pet Parade on the Fourth of July consistently over the past decade, with the history of local Independence Day celebrations extending back much further. “What we hear from our neighbors is that they want to celebrate our country and the fourth,” she said. “They believe that it’s an important tradition that helps bring family together, and whether you’re Republican or Democrat. It’s about taking care of the community.”

Well over 100 people made their way to Manchester’s Stormwater Park this year. Manchester’s residents, many of whom walked to the waterfront downtown, came decked out in patriotic USA colors. Plenty of dogs wore similar attire, but precious pooches were not the only pets at the parade.

“Did you see the goat?” Kowalski asked. “How about the ferrets? It’s incredible how much fun these families want to have.”

The sea of American pride strolled down East Main Street in a brief early afternoon parade. A giant, inflatable eagle, plenty of furry friends and some cute miniature cars played right into the event’s trademark of being the “world’s cutest and shortest parade.”

To folks like Eric Cisney, it’s amazing the kinds of things that can happen when a community bands together. “Manchester is amazing like that. It’s a very active and neat community,” he said.

Manchester even has a fireworks show. Parade attendees had the option to write down a special message or request on strips of wax paper. David Denniston would send those messages to the sky later that night, putting on the display as he’s done for years. He emphasized that he takes all the necessary precautions and limits himself to what he can handle, but it’s a grand finale to Manchester’s hidden gem for Independence Day.

“What can’t you love about this? It’s families together enjoying the day, and that’s the purpose of all of this,” he said.

Dogs were not the only ones to make it to this year's parade. Two ferrets decided to join the party.
Little ones throw out candy to the small group watching the parade.
A mini Model T helps lead the way in this year's parade. Otto, in front, had plenty of fun in the passenger seat.
Parade attendees were invited to write a message to be shot into the sky for the night's firework show.