We celebrated the 4th of July in the small farming town of Othello, Washington. And what a spirited celebration it was!
Othello is in the heart of farming country in eastern Washington, tucked into a vast checkerboard of crop circles as seen from the sky.
There are around 8,000 residents, and much of the population is farm workers from Mexico or of Mexican descent.
We fell in love with Mexican culture while sailing Mexico’s Pacific coast for almost four years, and if there’s a group of people on this planet who know how to celebrate any holiday with gusto, it is Mexicans!
Even though a big storm was threatening and the sky was turning black, there was no way anyone was going to rain on this 4th of July parade!
As we waited for the parade to begin, Buddy got a little extra loving from the kids around us.
And then a group of four police cars turned on their sirens and slowly crept by us, leading out a really fun and unusual parade.
One of the first things to go by was an old car labeled “Bonnie and Clyde” followed by some kids riding bicycles. The woman standing next to me said her family had lived in this town since 1953 and that she had ridden her bike in the parade as a little girl. The roots in Othello, Washington, go deep!
Soon a beautiful Rodeo Queen, Miss Rodeo Othello, rode her horse past us.
A crazy shark or fish was dancing around waving. The kids next to us waved back enthusiastically.
This 4th of July parade was really all about the kids. And the kids were all about the candy being thrown into the crowd. A lot of kids came prepared with bags to hold their loot!
There were discussions between the kids about who got what, and how to snag the particular candies you wanted before the next kid got ’em.
The farms in this area are huge, and it takes huge equipment to work the land. The little tractors of yesteryear are long gone, and several gargantuan pieces of farming equipment were shown off in the parade with great pride.
Many families have farmed here for generations and some had floats in the parade. One family was so large they had two floats!
I asked the gal next to me if her family was a farming family, and she said no, they had all been in various services to support the community of farmers: fire fighting, sheriff’s office, and construction were a few of their occupations.
Soon another massive piece of equipment native to Othello, Washington, rolled past. This time it was one used for construction rather than farming.
Of course, lots of politicians floated by, hoping to secure a vote or two, and then the Adams County Sheriff’s team made an appearance. These guys have the normal cop cars we’re used to seeing, but they also get to ride around in a very cool side-by-side!
I’m not sure what kinds of search-and-rescue operations this particular sheriff’s office has to perform, but they’ve got the gear to get you out of a terrible bind if you’re in one!
We were loving this unusual display of things that are a part of day-to-day living in this small town in eastern Washington. 4th of July parades happen all across America, of course, but each one gives the town a chance to celebrate, honor and display the things that are unique to their communities.
We were also loving the antics of the kids and the crowd. This was not a shy crowd, and as the ground grew thick with candy, everyone ventured out into the street to grab a few pieces until the parade participants and the parade watchers all got mixed up together. Watching the kids with their bags getting fuller and fuller, I said to Mark, “This is better for them than Halloween!”
Overhead, a drone flew by, taking it all in.
Next up were the cars.
Mark had caught sight of a few flashy cars before the parade when they were strutting their stuff and revving their engines all in a line heading to the parade start. Most of the cars were lovingly souped-up later model cars. A Nissan GT-R caught his eye, though. And a Plymouth Roadrunner, the only muscle car in the parade, brought a huge grin to his face. For me, I liked the Chevy Impala low rider that could raise and lower its front end.
Even better was the toddler in the crowd who had his own set of very cool wheels.
The parade ended with another round of sirens from a fleet of fire trucks and then we all wandered over to Lion’s Park. The sun began to come out, and with it the entire town came out to the park.
Lion’s Park is very large, and it was filled to the brim with food tents, various competitive events and kids swinging their hearts out on the swingsets at the big playground.
Buddy relished the lush green grass and rolled over and over with glee.
A band was setting up and some teenagers were having a 3-on-3 basketball tournament where the two small teams played at a single hoop.
Suddenly, the lovely voice of a young woman singing the Star Spangled Banner came over the loudspeaker, and everyone stopped what they were doing to listen.
After she finished, we noticed that there were all kinds of yummy things for sale over in the very long line of food tents. The BBQ wagon looked tempting.
But it was the wonderful Mexican fare that got our mouths watering. We hadn’t seen these things since we were in Mexico nine years ago, and it was all so familiar and heartwarming to see it again.
First was the Mexican drinks. Mexicans make all kinds of delicious cold drinks that are really refreshing on a hot day. From “horchata,” a sweet rice based drink, to “Agua de Jamaica” (pronounced “A-wah day Ha-my-ka”) made from hibiscus flowers, they have endless tasty and unique cold drinks. And here they all were in a colorful row!
Another booth was selling piña coladas in pineapples just as we saw on the beach in Mexico. Yum! I suspect they were virgin piña coladas at this family park, though, which of course they weren’t on the beach in Mexico!
And then there were mango slices in a plastic cup sold with a stick for stabbing them and popping them in your mouth. Again, we saw these refreshing snacks in many towns and on many beaches in Mexico, and it was a total hoot to see them here in a small farming town in rural Washington!
The city park was abuzz with activity by now. The music was going, people were picnicking, kids were playing and running in the playground area, and the basketball tourney was in full swing.
Over in the skate park there was a skateboard competition getting underway. We were really impressed watching the kids warm up. It was incredible they could do all kinds of tricks on the crazy concrete curvy walls of the skate park and not break their necks.
All of a sudden a kid came flying through the air right at me. And then another did a wild trick in mid-air. How fun!
A couple sitting next to me were the parents of one of the senior competitors. They’d driven from a town 90 miles away so their son could compete in this tournament. He was 17 now but he started skateboarding at age 8. The dad had tried it when he was a kid too, but he didn’t take to it. His son, however, took to it right away, riding his skateboard everywhere, even around the house, and now he was one of the guys doing wild tricks and jumps.
The 4th of July is a unique event in this world, honoring the birth of our nation as an independent and free state. For many, the meaning behind those words has intensified lately, and with that in mind, we found it particularly moving to be a part of such a colorful birthday celebration in a small western town!
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More info about Othello, Washington:
- Othello’s Official Website
- Stats and Data for Othello, WA
- Wikipedia entry for Othello
- Where Othello is located (Google Maps)
Other 4th of July celebrations we’ve enjoyed:
- Creede, CO – Mining History & Championships + 4th of July!
- Kanab, Utah, 4th of July – Stars & Stripes in the Red Rocks!
- 4th of July in Cody, Wyoming – The Cody Stampede Parade!
- An Old Time Country 4th of July – Custer, South Dakota
More blog posts from our travels in Washington:
- Pomeroy, Washington – An Impromptu Sunday Stroll!
- Entiat, Washington – An RV Friendly Town That’s On the Move!
- Chelan, Washington – Summertime Fun and Great Music!
- Stehekin Ferry: Cruise to a Hidden Gem in the North Cascades!
- North Cascades, WA – From the coast to the peaks
- Northern Washinton – Magical Mountains & Trees in Sleeves
- Southern Washington – Falling Logs
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