The word on the street—and the town common—was “best Fourth of July ever.”
Castine kicked off Independence Day with its traditional children’s costume parade. Parade mistress Doris Russell ushered children on bikes, floats and foot and in strollers and wagons from the library onto Court Street, where spectators lined the street to applaud and snap photographs.
A baby goat and a small dog decked out in red, white and blue, both on leashes, were the parade’s smallest participants.
Also marching were Riley and Will Colvis, great-great-great-grandchildren of George Wheeler, former Castine resident and author of A History of Castine, Brooksville and Penobscot (1875). Their mother, Sherry Colvis recalled being in the children’s parade as a child.
Games on the town common followed, with Brad Tenney calling the sack races and an all-hands-on-board tug of war.
Tables piled high with watermelon and lemonade helped keep everyone cool under the hot, hot sun, although the longest lines were for cotton candy and hot dogs. All refreshments were free for children.
“It’s been really fun and really hot,” said 9-year-old Will MacArthur, who has attended Independence Day in Castine for “more [years] than you can count.”
Competition was stiff for the nine open seats in the blueberry pie-eating contest. Names picked at random drew a field surprisingly heavy on teen-aged summer residents, with local Phillip Ciampa the only child at the table. He performed valiantly, but Christian Arntzen took top honors, with a shirtless, double fist pump to mark his victory. The 2012 winner, Juni Terry, was guaranteed a seat at the table but could not repeat her win.
Fire truck rides for all ages marked the end of the morning activities, leaving time for the commons to be cleaned and readied for the Castine Town Band performance that afternoon.
Evening brought live music with Willy Kelley and Sons to the waterfront, followed by fireworks.
Fire Chief Randy Stearns and his crew of volunteers worked throughout the morning and evening festivities. Directing evening traffic on Water Street as people poured into the town dock, Stearns said the firefighters appreciated the many thanks they received from townspeople and spectators before and during the day’s event. “It makes a difference.”