THEN… and Now || Maxwelton 4th of July

Posted in Community, More Stories, Second Chance

Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
July 1, 2015

We are introducing “THEN… and Now,” an occasional series of historical Whidbey Island photographs paired with contemporary images by David Welton.

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Attendance at the first Maxwelton 4th of July Parade in 1905 was limited to the founding Mackie family and neighbors; today the parade has a regional draw of thousands. George Mills, (below) with his cousin, Beth Grubb, on their tricked-out bikes in 1953 at the foot of Swede Hill Road, first participated over 60 years ago when visiting his Aunt Olive and Uncle Floyd Grubb on French Road during summer vacation.

 Beth Grubb and George Mills, ready to begin the  Maxwelton parade, 1953

Beth Grubb and George Mills, ready to begin the Maxwelton parade, 1953

Mills recalls how things have changed since then:

Horses are no longer allowed in the parade, so cleanup is easy.

Children who entered the parade were awarded a dime, which they redeemed for candy at the Maxwelton store. The building still stands just east of the ballpark, but the business closed long ago. Kids no longer have to buy candy; it is tossed liberally to viewers.

There are still three-legged races, sack-hops and egg-tosses after the parade, but the greased pole climb has been discarded.

“Hens and chickens” softball games once pitted single women against married opponents.

The health department no longer allows the sale of homemade pies to raise funds for park maintenance.

And these days—George pulls a replica of The Little Brown Church, founded by his great-grandfather John Grubb, behind his tractor.

George Mills

George Mills driving his tractor in the parade.

He still inspires younger generations to carry on the tradition of festooning their bicycles with red, white and blue ribbons, pinwheels and streamers.

Some things never seem to change!

Some things never seem to change — well, maybe they change a little…

David Welton is a retired physician and staff photographer for Whidbey Life magazine. He thinks and processes information visually and, therefore, [he says] he is a man of few words with limited verbal communication skills.


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