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

Gov. Jay Inslee talks about schools reopening during a past news conference. (Screenshot courtesy of TVW)
Masks required at big outdoor events; vaccine mandates expanded

Governor’s mask order takes effect Sept. 13.

This is a screenshot that shows the pursuit of a stolen vehicle Sept. 1 on Interstate 5 in King County.
VIDEO: Auburn police let suspected vehicle thief go, citing new laws

State laws passed earlier this spring require police to have probable cause to engage in a pursuit.

Juanita High School student Ria Mahon. Courtesy photo
Student brings awareness to menstrual health among Puget Sound’s homeless

When Ria Mohan, a junior of Juanita High School in Kirkland, had… Continue reading

Matt Axe, the Wildfire and Forest Resiliency Coordinator with the King Conservation District, speaks to homeowner Anita Kissee-Wilder about fire reduction strategies at her home in North Bend on Aug. 24. Photo by Conor Wilson/Valley Record.
King County braces for more wildfires in rural areas

Firefighters have already responded to a number of large fires.

New data dashboard tracks COVID-19 risk for unvaccinated, vaccinated people

Information compiled by Public Health – Seattle & King County

This 2019 security footage at the Cenex gas station in Black Diamond shows Anthony Chilcott on his phone before entering, and driving off with, Carl Sanders’ Ford Raptor and Monkey, his poodle, in the front seat. Courtesy photo
Oversight office releases scathing report on King County Sheriff’s Office

Report analyzes 2019 killing of Anthony Chilcott by deputies.

Close-up hand using phone in night time on street. File photo
King County Council steps closer to establishing hate crime hotline

The program is aimed at reducing the number of unreported hate crimes.

A Link light rail train travels underneath the University of Washington during testing to open the new line to Northgate. COURTESY PHOTO, Sound Transit
Northgate Link light rail testing moves into final stages

Three new north Seattle stations opening Oct. 2

Gov. Jay Inslee (left) bumps elbows with Auburn Vaccine Clinic staff member Mary Johnson (right) on June 22, 2021. Inslee visited the clinic to promote vaccinations in lower King County. Photo by Henry Stewart-Wood/Sound Publishing
COVID-19 surge puts strain on local hospitals

Delta is the predominate strain in Washington.

C-17 at Joint Base Lewis McChord airstrip. (Photo courtesy of United States Military)
King County Councilman calls for plan to help Afghan refugees settle here

Washington state expects roughly 6,000 refugees to come from Afghanistan.