It sprang up from a summer of road construction.
Businesses along Argonne Road in Millwood were taking a hit from the lack of traffic along the street that runs through the heart of the city.
“Businesses for some of these folks clearly declined,” said Shirene Young of Millwood Better for Business, an informal group of business owners who banded together to keep local shops thriving.
When the street re-opened, business owners worried drivers would have made their temporary detours permanent. They decided to host a community event to remind people that Millwood was still there. They called it Taking Back our Street.
This year, the event has grown and changed. The fourth annual Millwood Daze festival will be Aug. 25. While in years past, the festival centered around Argonne and the shops that line the street, this year, the focus will be the area of Dalton Avenue and Marguerite Road, a tree-shaded neighborhood with brick homes from another era.
“People just always comment on how beautiful Millwood is,” said Lon Page, owner of Anytime Fitness.
One thing that hasn’t changed – every year, organizers pick a charity to support, usually something local. This year, Meals on Wheels in Spokane is the recipient.
“They called us and we were thrilled with the opportunity,” said Mollie Dalpae, executive director of Meals on Wheels and Mid-City Senior Center.
Organizers were also thrilled with Meals on Wheels’ involvement in the planning. Dalpae and her team jumped right in and suggested new ways to expand the event.
One of those is the wagon parade. Kids, businesses or anyone interested are invited to decorate a red wagon and pull it through the streets of Millwood in a parade. Dalpae hopes to break the world record for the most red wagons. She said she isn’t sure how many red wagons will need to be in the parade to break the record, but estimated the number to be at least 49.
“I haven’t heard back from the Guinness people yet,” she said.
Local balloon artist Ryan Oelrich will create a wagon of balloons for the event. It will be on display at Nordstrom at River Park Square before the festival.
For Dalpae, fundraising has become increasingly important these past few years. Her agency receives no federal or state funding to serve 230 Meals on Wheels clients and 65 meals to clients at Mid-City Senior Center. The group relies wholly on grants and donations to make its $700,000 budget.
“Opportunities like this are just huge for us,” she said.
Another part of the festival that’s growing? The annual 5K Dash, which runs through Millwood to Felts Field and back. Last year, there were around 200 runners. This year, organizers expect about twice that number.
Page, another member of Millwood Better for Business, said the Medical Lake High School cross country team will help with race-day organizing. Team coach Gene Blankenship used to be an assistant cross country coach at West Valley High School, but since leaving, he still recruits his runners to help in Millwood.
The partnership with Meals on Wheels has been such a success so far, Page hopes Millwood Daze will continue to support the organization in the future.
Until then, however, organizers are looking forward to a day of celebrating their community. Young, who likes the fun run because it showcases Millwood in the very best way possible, is also looking forward to breaking the record of red wagons in a parade.
“Who’s to say we can’t have the biggest one?” she asked.