Willean Lindstrom was in her usual spot Saturday, sitting in her son’s car in front of the Fairfield Library to watch the 104th annual Flag Day parade go by.
Calling her a Flag Day regular is like saying Noah encountered a little bit of rain. She estimates she’s been to 90 Flag Day celebrations in Fairfield, which claims to have the longest uninterrupted streak of celebrating the patriotic holiday.
“I’ll be 101 in August,” she said. “Flag Day is a great day.”
While Lindstrom sat in a car and stayed dry, many others braved the off-and-on rain showers that threatened to dampen the festive spirit. The rain also didn’t stop people from driving in to experience the small-town festival, some of them coming hundreds of miles.
Mary Kemp grew up in the town and drove from Kalispell with her husband. She said she came because her brother was in the parade with some of his high school classmates from 50 years ago.
“This is the first day I’ve been here in 30-plus years,” she said. “I don’t ever remember it raining on Flag Day before.”
Flag Day started with a pancake breakfast and fun run and continued with booths, games and entertainment in Thiel Park. The highlight of the day was the grand parade down Main Street. The parade was only about six blocks, but it had more than 60 entries.
The honorary grand marshal was Col. Brian Newberry, commander of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild Air Force Base. He stood at attention and saluted in the back seat of a classic Ford Mustang convertible as the national anthem was sung to mark the beginning of the parade. Once the car started moving again, he sat and waved at people through the rain.
The parade was heavy on classic cars and political candidates. The Liberty High School marching band made an appearance, as did floats from Fairfield, Rosalia, the South Spokane Shrine Club and the Spokane Lilac Festival. The parade was announced by Mike Dodson, who peppered his commentary with jokes that sparked chuckles from the crowd.
Kids lined the street clutching plastic bags, prepared for the onslaught of candy thrown along the parade route. By the time fire engines from Spokane County Fire District 2 closed the parade, their bags were nearly bursting.
Former Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey said he comes every year because his wife, Karen, grew up in Fairfield.
“We’ve been married 48 years, and I’m still meeting relatives down here,” he said. “It’s fun.”
Eric Olson came prepared for the event. His family’s SUV was parked on Main Street so they could enjoy the parade while staying dry. They also set up several folding chairs under an awning.
Olson said the family comes regularly to Flag Day because his brother-in-law, Ken Fuchs, lives in Fairfield.
“It’s the candy that keeps us coming back and the incredible pancakes served by Ken Fuchs,” he said. “It’s like coming back to Mayberry.”