INDEPENDENCE/MONMOUTH — “Honk,” “Wave,” “Throw Candy.”
The annual Monmouth-Independence Rotary Club Fourth of July parade was canceled this year, but area residents looked for other ways to celebrate.
One family set up at their usual spot in front of Central High School and asked passing drivers to wave and honk - “U R the Parade,” one of their signs informed drivers on Monmouth Street. Many happily complied.
“My grandpa Larry (Loomis) was the one who came up with the idea,” said Melinda Stamy. “We chose that location because that is where we always sit for the parade. The Fourth of July is a holiday we always look forward to spending time together as a family every year doing the different festivities. Since everything was canceled my grandpa decided to throw our own celebration and try to make the most out of the situation.”
The family set up around 8:30 a.m. and got some pancakes from the drive-thru Polk Fire District No. 1 set up at their station.
They stayed until about 1:30 p.m., Stamy said, “just waving at cars and having a great time. (We) ended up getting quite a bit of candy thrown at us along with someone dropped off a 6-pack of root beer.”
The Independence Days Commission worked hard to plan block parties in different areas of town, with games, food, and music. They aimed to keep numbers low so people could keep at 6 feet apart, in compliance with state guidelines to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Monmouth and Independence had house decorating contests.
There was a virtual 5-kilometer race and the rubber duck race, where 150 rubber duckies were dumped off the bridge in Independence into the Willamette River.
The block party at the Independence Sports Park proved to be among the most popular. Independence Days Committee chair Janice Thompson said they even ran out of prizes for the games.
All the games were planned to minimize the risk of sharing germs. The duckies used for the rain gutter regatta were sanitized before people used them, as were the spray bottles people used shoot the rubber ducks down the path. A dart game was modified so players threw water balloons at screws sticking out of the targets on a board.
A group of people was spotted marching from Monmouth to Independence.
In downtown Monmouth, some people enjoyed outdoor dining and some set their chairs out along the route where the parade usually travels.
Frank and Judy Vanderburg, of Monmouth, sat at a table outside Craft Bar West in the afternoon.
“I couldn’t remember the last time we missed a parade,” Frank said.
The couple didn’t plan to do fireworks, but did plan on honoring another Fourth of July tradition by having hot dogs and apple pie.