Correction: The printed version of this story misstated Wyatt Jarvis' academic status. At the time of publication, he is a senior at Western Washington University in Bellingham.
Monroe Fair Days Parade Saturday, Aug. 24
MONROE - This year the Monroe Fair Days Parade has nearly double the entries, and little changes to this year’s celebration will make a big difference.
During her first year as the Monroe Chamber of Commerce executive director, Annique Bennett had what she called a “mom-thought” during the parade and made a note of how exhausted and overheated the performers were by the time they got to the judge’s stand at the end of the parade route.
“The kids were exhausted by the time they got down there, and their parents were spraying them with water and trying to keep them hydrated,” Bennett said. “It had always been at that location for decades, and when I started asking people in the community, why don’t we move it, they said they’d love to move it.”
Now, the judge’s stand is set up at the Wagner Center in the middle of the parade route at 639 W. Main St. This new location is more open and conducive to creating a lively hub-like atmosphere, more focalized in the middle of it all, Bennett said.
The parade begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 24 in downtown Monroe.
The city will set up bleachers where people can see what the judges see: when the parade entries make it to the judge’s stand they put on their biggest and best performance.
“There will be a DJ, beach balls thrown around the crowd; we just want to get high energy going,” Bennett said. “I just love parade time.”
DJ Big Dog Jerry Dickson will be playing music while Emerald City Fitness dancers will perform at 9 a.m. to get things going.
Parade spectators will get the chance to meet the famous daredevil Mike Buse, who goes by Mr. Dizzy and is featured on a reality show on the History Channel.
Buse is a Monroe native and said he is looking forward to greeting people and signing autographs at the judge’s stand at 9 a.m.
“I may have a few tricks up my sleeve,” Buse said. “You never know, I might light my hand or my hat on fire!”
Other big-name entries include the Seattle Seahawks cheerleaders the Sea Gals, the Seafair Pirates, equestrian group the Colors of Hawaii, and drift and drag cars from the Evergreen Speedway.
Aside from creating a new, more central party atmosphere, the entries for this year are way up from 2012. Last year the parade had 56 entries, and so far this year there are 89.
The increase in participation is almost completely the result of one hardworking young man.
Wyatt Jarvis, a college senior from Bellingham, is a summer intern working at the chamber solely for room and board. He has been pushed harder than all of the other employees, people at the chamber have said, and he’s really impressed the staff.
He’s also Bennett’s son.
But just because the chamber intern happens to be related to the executive director, that doesn’t mean he got any special treatment. In fact, the opposite was probably true, Bennett said. Jarvis made the Monroe Fair Days Parade his biggest project and tracked down each new entry on his own.
Some special acts that he was determined to book were harder than others.
“Smokey the Bear is very difficult to get a hold of,” Jarvis said. “There isn’t a direct line to the office that manages Smokey the Bear. And he’s not a full-time mascot; they rotate the job through different forest rangers.”
Jarvis fondly remembered seeing Smokey from his childhood and was determined to book the lovable forest fire prevention activist who the chamber had previously been unable to track down.
After calling office after office and being told to try different phone numbers each time, Jarvis said he probably called nine different offices before finally locating the man who plays the part of Smokey the most often.
And now Smokey the Bear is going to be marching and dancing around a couple of forest service trucks in the parade, Jarvis said.
“When (the forest service representatives) came in, they said they wanted to form a close relationship with Monroe and come to more of the events,” Jarvis said. Now the U.S. Forest Service is going to be a part of other local events like the National Night Out Against Crime.
“It feels good,” Jarvis said. “It feels nice to know that even if I’m only here for the summer I had a lasting effect on the community. It makes it rewarding.”
The parade route runs along West Main Street and begins at 179th Ave. and ends at S. Blakeley Street (Union Bank).
The judges’ reviewing stand and vendor area is located midway down the parade route in front of Wagner Center at 639 W. Main Street in historic downtown Monroe.
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