This year's Old Home Week and Fourth of July celebration went very well until Tropical Storm Arthur put a damper on everything. The wind and rain caused the cancellation of the Independence Day fireworks as well as all of the July 5 activities.
"The Eastport Fourth of July celebration dodged storms throughout the week; however, almost every event was held with beautiful weather. We were fortunate to get the Grand Independence Day Parade under way before Arthur moved in," sums up Eastport Fourth of July Committee Chair Barbara Hicks. "I've heard the phrase 'protecting us in domestic and foreign waters' before, but when it comes to the officers and crew of the USS Anzio, they put those words in a whole new light. We are extremely thankful for their help with fires and debris removal during and after the storm. This was a Fourth of July to remember."
Several of the traditional July 1 activities had been moved to July 5 this year, but the Canada Day sailboat race, fiber arts workshop and old-fashioned country rib barbecue provided entertainment and some delicious food on Tuesday.
Among the July 2 activities on Wednesday, the crowd at Overlook Park was delighted by the comedic stylings of Dana Perkins, a noted ventriloquist and magician, as he let his dummies, especially his famous six‑foot bird Pee Wee Rainbow, pick on him for almost an hour. Pee Wee himself would forget his cues to say, "I give up; what is it?" during attempts at jokes, looking at the audience and asking who the real dummy was. Perkins also performed feats of magical illusion such as the Chinese Linking Rings and removing handkerchiefs styled after the American flag, though not exactly in the correct color until the end. He juggled and still managed to make the audience laugh after promising to use eight balls, only to produce three billiard‑style eight‑balls.
The Pet Show followed Perkins' act, and the audience cheered for the various animals brought on stage, such as dogs, cats, bunnies, even guinea pigs and a ferret.
In late afternoon the action moved to Shead High School for the annual Talent Show. The participants were all children in age categories of 3‑7, 8‑13 and 14 and up. The children gave it their all with demonstrations in gymnastics, singing, dancing and more. Jamie Roy, formerly from Eastport and back for Old Home Week, gladly acted as the emcee for the show. "It's so much fun to see them enjoy themselves, and just another part of the festivities. It's part of what these Fourth of July celebrations are all about C getting the kids out here."
The July 3 activities included the annual Quoddy Maritime Museum Auction which, after expenses, raised $6,203 for the Border Historical Society. Approximately 50 people were in attendance and over 190 donated items were sold. It was the most successful auction ever held by the historical society.
The Firemen's Muster held on Water Street was an experience not easily forgotten, especially for those in the audience who were soaked as teams from the Eastport Fire Department, Coast Guard Station Eastport and the USS Anzio let water fly freely or purposefully while competing against each other. Several contests proved hilarious and had many audience members smiling or laughing in surprise, not only at their own suddenly damp states, but also for the firemen who would, in clownish good cheer, get in each others' way or lift opposing team members headfirst into a very large tub of water. The USS Anzio team won the day in first place while the U.S. Coast Guard Station Eastport and Eastport Fire Department teams made second and third place respectively.
Emcee Chris Gardner gladly describes the event as an Eastport tradition. "The camaraderie that comes out of this is fabulous and, quite honestly, it's one of the best events the Fourth has to offer."
Competition did not end with the Firemen's Muster. Teams young and old participated in the entertaining Codfish Relay. One person on each team, with two members beside them on one end of the street and three more on the other end, would suit up in fisherman overalls, boots and rain jackets and proceed to carry their own large codfish from their end of the street to the other and trade off with the next teammate. With slick fish to keep hold of, and sometimes struggling to keep their loose overalls from falling down to their ankles, all participants did their best to run fast and set record times. Three teams from the USS Anzio competed, and the Fish Are Friends entry won the final race. The teams had many a hearty laugh with each other for their efforts; sailor Sean Fadgen ended a run with a codfish gripped tightly in his teeth.
Eighteen early risers attended the sunrise flag-raising ceremony on July 4 and enjoyed coffee and blueberry cake for their patriotic efforts. Many others headed to the airport to enjoy the blueberry pancake breakfast and socialize with other diners who may not have seen each other since the previous year's breakfast.
Later in the morning, judges had a difficult time picking winners in the Doll Carriage, Bikes and Trikes, and Other Wheels parades because there were 33 entrants.
There was a great turnout for the Grand Independence Day Parade, and although the weather kept Senator Susan Collins from attending, other politicians, businesses, animals, vehicles, bands and floats entertained bystanders.
The general consensus on the afternoon of July 4, under a sunny sky, was that the fireworks may have been cancelled too early in the day. However, when the tropical storm neared during the evening, it didn't take long for winds to significantly pick up and intensify.