Rainier Days 2021

My little town has one of the biggest Independence Day celebrations around, complete with parade, three-day carnival, and a huge fireworks display. It is always held the weekend AFTER the actual Fourth of July, so that way everyone from other towns can do their own local thing on the holiday weekend, then come to Rainier the following weekend. The fireworks are launched from a barge in the middle of the gigantic Columbia River, so it is safe and won’t start any wildfires. People come from miles around and converge on our tiny settlement and part of the fun for me is simply seeing people all over the place.

Pedro and his kids came early Saturday morning so we could see the parade. I have not yet been to the Rainier parade, and was delighted with it as I knew I would be. Have you ever been to a small-town parade? They are completely unlike big parades, and have an irresistible charm.

We sat on top of a wall at a place where the parade would turn a corner.
This flag-bearer walked at the front.
I loved seeing how many spectators were in the Independence Day spirit, like this man wearing US flag shirt and hat.
There were multiple country-themed floats, like these cowgirls on straw bales.
Wait, what?! There is a Ladies of Rainier organization? I am a lady of Rainier…I need to look into this. Behind them, Luigi’s Pizza from right on Highway 30, near the town’s only stoplight.

The kids, Pedro, and I were having a pretty good time. I had forgotten about candy at parades. I think for the kids, it was the ONLY thing going on. It was quite entertaining to watch the antics of small people (and sometimes their parents) angling for the best candy haul. Even Pedro got into the fray, jumping down off our concrete perch to grab some candies and bring them back up to us. After a while, people in the parade began trying to launch sweets up to us folks sitting on the wall up the hill. Sometimes the confectionaries made it!

Kids throwing candies from the Rainier School District float.
Rainier students.
Mom helps her son collect candy from the road. From the looks of the bulge in that sack, he doesn’t need help. I like her patriotic blue hair.
Ms. St. Helens and Ms. Scappoose (St. Helens and Scappoose are two small towns near us)
This 3-year-old tyke was in front of us with his brother and Grandma and Grandpa for the whole parade. It was his first parade of his life (due to age and pandemic), and the spectacle was clearly a thrill.
When this triceratops came through, the kid was beside himself and desperate to run into the street to get to the dinosaurs. His grandfather held onto his shirt to keep him safe. The boy reached out with a tentative hand and reverently touched the inflatable dinosaur.
These were my favourite two photos of the day. After it was over, I jumped off the wall and went and showed them to Grandma and Grandpa, got her phone number, and texted the photos to her.
Police horses
A bunch of old military vehicles came through. Not sure what the significance was. Sometimes in a very small town parade, vehicles join just because they are interesting or impressive. I’m guessing someone local owns these and has enlisted some friends to drive them.
My next favourite photo of the day.
Neat old Army truck.
Hospital truck, just in case.
Medic at the ready.
Live music from the High School band.
These kids from the Future Farmers of America float are helpfully sampling the candies, to make sure they are safe to throw to spectators.
He has made his hat more festive.
A pirate ship! Again, no idea what the relevance is, but who cares? It’s great.
I think I spotted an actual transaction of pirate treasure taking place.
More horse-women! I LOVE her Fourth-of-July boots!
Parade judges discuss the parade entries.
I think I could use this tractor at my place.
This decorated hearse is not likely used for funerals, but someone’s personal vehicle. The girl in purple in the foreground is waving to the next float, hoping for candies to get tossed in her direction.

After the parade we went home and fed the kids to fill their bellies with something other than sweets. We played frisbee out in the backyard and hung around home till evening and cooler weather, then went back into town to the carnival.

We rode some rides while we waited for the fireworks.

The place was packed and we waited in lines for SO LONG to get onto the rides. What pandemic? Pedro and I went on one called DROP ZONE that carried us straight up into the air, three stories high, then dropped! Pure panic. I screamed so much it was hilarious! I wish I had a recording of that, oh my gosh. We played games like shooting water guns to fill up balloons, throwing darts at balloons, throwing rings over rubber duckies, tossing basketballs, etc. We ate deep fried starches bathed in sugars. Basically we did all the appropriate things. Finally, it was dark enough for fireworks. The show was about 45 minutes long and so great. I really do love fireworks. We made our way home through a couple thousand people (my town’s population must have doubled that day), and went home to bed.

Fireworks over the Columbia River, with the Port of Longview in the background.




17 thoughts on “Rainier Days 2021

  1. Pretty cool to see. Yep, much different than usual for sure. I went to a small town that held celebrated “lawn mower races” a couple years ago. Small towns are full of character ! I’ll be in St Helen’s this week !

    1. Lawn mower races sounds fun too! You are right about small town character. Hey, if you’re going to St. Helens from up north, you’ll probably be passing right through my town. If you leave I-5 in Longview to cross the bridge, I’m practically at the end of the bridge. If you have time for coffee, I could meet you there! How long will you be in St. Helens?

      1. Tomorrow is my day there but it’s just a short down and back. My niece and her boyfriend bought a house there so I’ll be a more frequent flyer that way. ( And they just got a new dog that I have to meet ! )Hoping to hike Saddle Mountain in August and stay with them, so we could definitely plan a coffee date !

      2. I have not hiked Saddle Mountain and just looked it up. It looks quite picturesque and I hope your hike is awesome. August is touch-and-go for me, but I would love a coffee date if it works. Getting ready to head into the Goat Rocks Wilderness with Pedro for five days, starting tomorrow. I haven’t done a long backpacking trip since 2019 and I’m so excited and anxious.

    1. Aren’t they the best? As Bonnie Rae said, small towns have character. When I lived in the Montavilla area of Portland, I discovered that parts of big towns can do a small-town parade too. I loved the Avenue of Roses parade that goes down 82nd Street (also known as the Avenue of Roses). Our neighbor had a van painted like the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo, and always entered his van in the parade. You stay cool too. What a hot summer it has been!

    1. It was very fun, Derrick, from morning till night. I forgot to mention that we also played giant Jenga. Have you seen the game Jenga? It’s usually about a foot tall when all the wooden pieces are stacked. This game was four feet high! The kids brought it, and we had fun playing until the tower came crashing down.

  2. I love your photography because it’s like looking around with you and you point to this and to that, unobtrusively, you make a little joke, you admire this and that, even military equipment gets gentler if you take photos of it. And you would even approach people and offer them your photos of them, ahh. I have never done that. Thank you for this report. I’m glad you got it all for your holiday.

    1. Your comments are so kind, my friend. And yes, you noticed that I did get my fireworks after all, and a marvelous fireworks display at that. I have offered my photos of people to the subjects themselves in the past. Not often, but sometimes a shot is so good I feel like the other person would appreciate having it. In the case of a grandson at his first parade, it seemed like a no-brainer that the grandparents would want them. Once I had the same courtesy extended to me. I was at a drive-through safari park, and 3-year-old Tara was in awe at the ostrich right outside the car window. I took photos of the little muchkin looking out at the giant bird. After the bird left and we were able to safely drive on, a nearby car flagged us down. They were two older women who had taken photos from the outside: of the bird looking into the car window at a toddler. We exchanged information and they later mailed me the photograph, so I could display them side by side, which I did in my cubicle at work for a long time.

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