Walla Walla turns out in droves for Fourth in the park

The city’s Fourth of July celebration drew a larger than usual crowd.

More than 1,000 people turned out Thursday to help celebrate the nation's 237th birthday.

More than 1,000 people turned out Thursday to help celebrate the nation's 237th birthday. Photo by Greg Lehman.

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Between the live music, fried food and attendance much higher than in recent years, one thing was clear at the city’s Fourth of July in the Park celebration: Walla Walla knows how to throw a party.

Well more than 1,000 people were at Pioneer Park by noon, enjoying the relative cool of the 89 degree high and sampling funnel cakes, tacos and hot dogs from the event’s food vendors. Many people remarked that attendance was higher than they’d seen in years, and some families came from elsewhere to observe the holiday.

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Sights and sounds from the Fourth

Pioneer Park was hopping on Thursday for the annual Independence Day celebration.

Pioneer Park was hopping on Thursday for the annual Independence Day celebration.

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Walla Walla fireworks show

The annual fireworks show, seen at Walla Walla Community College.

The annual fireworks show, seen at Walla Walla Community College.

The Kushnerchuk family drove down from Spokane for the day because, according to mom Julia, Walla Walla’s event is fun enough to be worth it.

“We just like the atmosphere. I feel like people are really friendly and the park is gorgeous. It just feels like a big group of people who all know each other,” she said.

Her 10-year-old daughter Emily, who was waving three American flags, agreed and said she was enjoying the music.

While many Walla Wallans were looking to spend time in the sun, dozens of local organizations and businesses had booths set up in a large ring around the main stage and grass.

Some were looking to sell goods, but the city’s Republicans, Democrats and Tea Party Patriots were also in attendance.

Attendees could explore a full-sized Valley Transit bus parked on the grass, or watch a blacksmith hammer metal hooks over an anvil.

The Walla Walla Sweets Roller Girls operated a popular dunk tank, where participants could pay a dollar for one shot to dunk a derby girl. Team Captain Nikki Williams took the first shift in the morning, which she described as “breathtakingly cold,” but said she was happy to be out raising awareness and funds for the team.

“I love the atmosphere,” she said.

Contemporary Christian artist Josh Wilson was also a hit, with the crowd singing along to his songs and a small group of adults and children dancing in front of the stage. The performance was sponsored by Positive Life Radio, and station manager Kevin Krueger said he appreciated Wilson’s creativity and the tone of his music.

“It’s easy, relaxed. (We) just want everybody to have a good time,” he said.

For the Kushnerchuk parents, getting their three children to Walla Walla by car required a lot of radio music, but the whole family looked happy as they sat on a blanket and watched the main stage performances.

“For us, it’s just family time,” Julia Kushnerchuk said. “We just want to enjoy the day.”

Rachel Alexander can be reached at rachelalexander@wwub.com or 509-526-8363.

For more Fourth of July coverage, take a look at our collection of community photos and social media posts from the park.

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