On a gorgeous sunny morning, Mercer Island Summer Celebration got off to a splendid start with a 10 a.m. parade showcasing Island residents of every generation and groups of every description, from Island wiener dogs to Mercer Island Veterans and Citizens of the Year.
Parade Masters of Ceremony Gordon Neumiller and John Nelson took turns at the mic announcing and introducing each group with wry comments as they passed by .
Island residents lined the parade route from Alpenland to Mercerdale Park. Entreprenurial 10-year-olds Declan Chapin, Grace Gottesman and her 8-year-old sister Sophie Gottesman took advantage of the crowds and set up a table in front of to sell their homemade flowered headbands.
“I was on a family trip to Spain, and there were so many flowers there, I put one in my ponytail,” Grace said. “That’s what inspired me to make them here.”
“We knew there would be a lot of people walking by here,” Sophie added. “So we figured we’d sell them and donate the (proceeds) to the Red Cross.”
The veterans of Mercer Island VFW Post 570 blazed the trail to start the parade, followed by Citizens of the Year Susan Kaplan and Terry Pottmeyer in a classic Ford Thunderbird holding bouquets of roses. Hometown Hero Dawn Nye followed close behind, as did a group from , whose pastors and families took up two classic Mustangs and an Oldsmobile.
Island Wieners, resplendent in doggie tutus and sweaters, preceded Youth Theater Northwest (to Neumiller’s cry of “Hello young thespians!”) and the Mercer Island Brownies and Cub Scouts.
A quartet of eager Mercer Island High School lads sat on the ledge in front of , scanning the parade for girls. “I’m digging the Island Wieners and the cheerleaders---especially the (Mercer Island High School) cheerleaders,” Chris Costa said.
“I agree, I’m loving the cheerleaders,” Jeff Lo added.
“After this we will be eating a lot of food and jousting,” Doug Mclellan said.
As the new red “Library to Go” Van cruised by, Ginny Pietila reminisced with her friends about previous years' parades.
“We’re waiting for our daughters to walk by with the Mercer Island Swim Team,” she said. “Seems like not that long ago we’d see them marching along with Patty’s Playschool, then the Mercer Island Preschool Association, and now it’s the swim team…they grow up so fast!”
Mercer Island Borzoi and the West Highland Terriers clubs showed off their fine canine companions, followed by Darth Vader, a Mercer Island man who has been menacing Islanders for 10 years in his traditional black costume. The Mercer Island Drill Team and Mercer Island Community Marching Band made grand entrances, followed ny the Mercerwood Shore Club, sporting “Batman” dressed in blue Speedo trunks, a cape, painted mask and nothing else. All four of Mercer Island’s martial arts dojos had kicking, punching and karate-chopping men and women wending their way along the parade rout, while all the political hopefuls running for city council were in evidence with signs and bags full of candy to sweeten potential supporters.
Russ Edwards said he drove a long way to come to the parade with his sister. “I live on the other side of the state, but I’ve been coming out here for the past seven years to march with Betty and Wilma (wiener dogs) and my sister, (Marianne Bond) who lives on Mercer Island,” he said, “We just love a good parade, and for us, it’s all about community cohesiveness… It’s cool.”