Celebrating Kitsap one more time

Here we are once again at the end of a full season of celebration, proud of who we are and why we are residents of the finest county in the state. What began in April comes to a joyful conclusion this weekend. The children are back in school, vacation memories are being packed away and we begin to ready ourselves for the days to grow shorter, the nights to grow longer and the pellet stove output to replace window fan cooling. But the experiences we leave behind are fond memories and ones worth taking another look at.

In Kitsap, it all starts when we recognize and honor the members of our armed forces with the largest Armed Forces Day Parade in the nation. There is something to be said for recognizing those who are so important in our community and to our nation by pulling all the stops out. I guess we really do get our priorities right. Of course, the bands have to make the rapid shift from Bremerton to Poulsbo to take part in the Viking Fest Parade. After the high visibility opening in April, we enjoy Fathoms of Fun, Fourth of July in Kingston and Bainbridge Island, Crosby Days, Olalla Bluegrass, Whaling Days, and then wrap it all up back in Bremerton with Blackberry Festival. In between, we take time out on Memorial Day to honor those who gave so much and paid the price for our continued freedom. Celebrations extend across the county. Then there are a whole bunch more small community events that allow us to all come together for fun and fellowship.

There is a common string that links the individual celebrations to one another and the community. Each and every one of the parades and festivals is a celebration of small town America putting forth its finest for all the world to see. The floats may not meet the standards of the Rose Parade, but they certainly were built with every bit as much enthusiasm and pride in purpose. The marching groups may not have the polish of the “pick of the litter” bands and dance lines that grace the ranks of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, but they have every bit as much class in their hearts. Our celebrations are the people of Kitsap saying to themselves and the rest of the world, “Here we are, warts and all — Come join the fun.” And we certainly do have fun.

We also take exceptional pride that, while we may be “the second most densely populated county in the state” (don’t you just love number crunchers), we also are the county that won’t let go of country. We are small town and rural America and proud of it. We don’t need or want high-powered TV coverage to make our events special. The winners in our hydroplane races are every bit as special as those in that other event on that state-named lake. We have a better rodeo. We may not have all the fancy rides that other fair in the place you can’t pronounce has, but our kids have fun. Besides, the playing field is level ’cause we got scones too. Our little kids are just as cute (probably cuter since mom didn’t prep them to appear on TV), our “queens” and “princesses” are just as pretty and our junior bands can miss notes right up there with the best of them. We do a much better job of standing up and saluting our flag when it goes by and we never fail to applaud any veteran or active duty member in a parade. We don’t have to be reminded — we know that stuff. Sure our inflatable whale, giant racing duck and inflatable bull rider may be a bit corny, but they are us and we love it.

Now as we take in the last hurrah of summer on this Labor Day weekend, just one more time, let’s stand up and give ourselves a round of applause for never losing sight of who we are and what is really important. Small town America comes through again. Congratulations Kitsap, you are something special.

Jack Hamilton can be reached at gradiver@wavecable.com

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