The first Fourth of July parade I watched in Twisp was on Independence Day 2011 — also the first day I was officially the new owner of the Methow Valley News. So with some careful math, I calculate that this Fourth of July would mark my 10th parade and ninth anniversary at the News.
Only there won’t be a parade, nor an Arts Festival to follow. I expect to lament their absence on Saturday, as will many of you. I’ve noted before that in Twisp, you’re either watching the parade or part of it, making it close to a full participation event. Although I have usually been taking photos for the paper, I’ve always enjoyed the parade as an opportunity to see familiar faces I haven’t encountered in a while, and to learn more about the community and what’s important to it.
The Arts Festival is always just plain fun, especially watching the kids enjoy themselves and taking in some excellent entertainment. When they resume, I suspect we’ll value the parade and festival even more for having missed their unifying power — something we could surely use more of now.
It’s been a year of deprivation for our most cherished local events. We lost the Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival, the Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival, the Memorial Day Rodeo, The Merc Playhouse’s summer productions (I was hoping to be a part of that), Winthrop ’49er Days (maybe to be revisited in the fall), art gallery events, spring sports at the high school, live music and high-quality acts at the local venues, summer camps, outdoor recreation and competitions, programs at the libraries, the bicycle rodeos, the Methow Valley Home Tour, the Okanogan County Fair and other celebrations (I’m sure I missed something, sorry about that).
Annual events that are a few months down the road remain uncertain — such as the Labor Day Rodeo and the Winthrop Vintage Wheels Show. Organizers have waited as long as they practically could to decide whether to go ahead or cancel, and have made responsible painful decisions that have ripple effects for all of us. At the same time, the barebones calendar hasn’t stopped the flow of tourists — who still have plenty of options — from making what seem to be thousands of “nonessential” trips to the Methow.
Our local calendar of events remains skimpy, although some places are beginning to come back to life as we gingerly negotiate Phase II with high hopes for Phase III. The best part about inching back into the community’s life is reconnecting with people you haven’t seen for a while.
As for my tenure at the newspaper: Nine years is a tweener anniversary — those ending with a 5 or a 0 are the ones we deem most notable. I will say that getting through the past few years has been an ongoing adventure, one that I would not find worthwhile to take on anywhere else. I’m thinking that making it to a decade may call for a party. Stay tuned for that.
Please, whether you live here or are enjoying the Fourth of July weekend as a visitor, we implore you: Do not be the bleeping idiot who starts a fire by setting off fireworks. Nobody here is happy to see (or hear) your explosive little toys. If you torch our home, prison and fines won’t be punishment enough.
Fire danger is high, we’ve been seeing a lot of windy days, and we’ve had enough problems so far with “controlled” burns (I now classify that as an oxymoron) getting out of hand, requiring the quick and efficient response of our Okanogan County Fire District 6 crews and other agencies that are ready to assist. We will need everything they’ve got if a really big fire breaks out (hoping for another good summer), and it’s ridiculous to overtax our resources with unnecessary conflagrations.
So, man up (because it’s always men who gotta blow stuff up) and go fireworks-free. You can do it.
Can’t believe I have to say this
There is so much to be said about this that it really shouldn’t need any more saying, but here goes anyway: Wear the mask. If you care about the valley, about the people who live here, about your friends, family, yourself and humanity in general, wear the mask. Before I get too wound up about all the inane reasons offered for disdaining masks, I’m going to stop right here.
No, I don’t think I will. WEAR THE DAMN MASK!