The Spirit of ’79

By Pauli DeHaan

The year 1976 marked the 200th birthday of the United States and the whole country was buzzing with excitement. After attending a Blaine school meeting, a group of busy young Point Roberts mothers, all with families to raise, decided to plan an event for the Bicentennial, and it caught on like wildfire. “The original committee consisted of Doreen and Norma Peltier, Carla Scherer, Kristin Manning and Pauli DeHaan. They were assisted by Pat Jorgensen, Kathy Blanchard, Rosy Martinez, Linda Myrdal and Sharon Swanson. These girls did a most fantastic job.” (Ocean Star, Vol. 1, Issue 1, 1976)

It had been 60 years (1916) since the last parade and our 1976 parade had 50 entries, including Miss Tsawwassen and an experimental airplane. Our plans grew to include a dance at the Cannery Ballroom, the parade, watermelon eating contest, baseball, kids games, bands on the boardwalk, and a huge edible American flag cake donated by Dee Archer that fed 600 people.

The finale to our day of celebration was a fantastic fireworks exhibition. George Scherer and Mike White volunteered to attend classes to become fireworks technicians and George, a pilot, used his airplane to transport the fireworks to the Point. George and Mike went one step further, creating a grand finale message. At the end of the night, “Happy Birthday America” lit up the sky in fireworks – it was magical! This was long before the fancy fireworks competitions began in Vancouver, B.C., and our Canadian neighbors streamed across the border to see the show. An estimated crowd of 5,000 lined the dunes and boardwalk of Lighthouse Marine Park.

From the planning of the event to the small army of volunteers for litter clean up the following morning, the entire community had come together to make the Bicentennial Fourth of July celebration a very special day.

Forty-two years later, with the Fourth of July approaching, Ruby White suggested that the original committee have a reunion. With a little detective work, we found almost everybody and got together at Ruby’s house to reminisce. Those young mothers, who are now grand and great grandmothers, had a great time together talking about old times and new family additions. We doff our hats to all the businesses and residents who have volunteered their time over the years to continue the tradition. Happy Fourth of July, everyone.

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