The Fourth of July Festival in Riverfront Park is like a big Spokane family reunion.
It’s a little loud and sweaty, featuring people of all ages and ethnicities. It’s full of ice cream, hamburgers, kettle corn and hot dogs, squealing kids and panting canines. It’s busy and somewhat chaotic, yet when the first rocket pierces the night sky and people settle to watch the annual fireworks, most will agree that they’ve once again had a pretty good time.
One big draw this year was the Blue Knights out of Denver. The marching band put on a lively show on the lawn in front of City Hall, not missing a beat in the blistering afternoon sun. About 100 people quickly lined up to enjoy the performance, and they managed to cheer the Blue Knights back for a brief encore.
Across the park playing the role of busker was 9-year-old Ethan Smith, of Spokane Valley, who’ll soon be a fourth-grader.
He was playing the violin in the sun, and sported a handwritten cardboard sign saying he’s saving for a new violin.
“He played at Hoopfest, too,” said his mom, Stephanie Smith, who was right there, armed with water and sunscreen. “We have been renting an instrument for four years, and now he’s saving his busker money to buy his own violin.”
Smith drew quite an audience.
“A new violin is about $500,” said Smith, who has saved $300, including what he made at Hoopfest. “I think I can make it.”
Musical performers were scattered throughout the park, including bagpipers and the winners of BobFest, the city’s teen band competition.
Day passes for park rides were sold at a discount between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and there were lines at the gondolas and many of the other kiddie rides.
A new addition to this year’s festival was a community parade that was to depart from the Spokane Falls SkyRide at 1 p.m.
Andrea Boures brought her daughters Olivia, 6, and Sofie, 3, to walk in the parade. The girls were wearing their best red-white-and-blues for the occasion.
“We are usually out of town for the Fourth and we do this little community parade on the Oregon Coast,” Boures said. “I saw this parade online this morning and decided to come down here so we wouldn’t miss our parade.”
Otto, the Spokane Indians Spokaneasaurus mascot, and Gonzaga University’s mascot Spike soon joined the sparse crowd waiting for the parade to be led by Riverfront Park’s red train and Uncle Sam on stilts.
Without much fanfare the parade took off, leaving behind the Boures family, a handful of other people and two ponies decorated with sparkly red-white-and-blue bows.
“I guess that was it,” said Boures, before offering rides as a consolation to her two girls.