Cannon Beach celebrates the Fourth

GEORGE VETTER PHOTO Crowds throng the Cannon Beach Fourth of July parade.

The Independence Day celebration in Cannon Beach includes long-running community traditions, but more visitors are stopping by to partake in it.

It’s hard to gauge just how many stepped foot in the town of about 1,690 during the Fourth of July weekend, but Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Courtland Carrier noted there were at least 300 a day based on those who came into the Visitor Center seeking information, a slight increase from last year.

And nearly every bed-and-breakfast, hotel room and camping spot in Cannon Beach was occupied — 1,700 rooms overall.

Carrier actually had to refer some motorcyclists to Tillamook one evening.

Only the two most expensive rooms, costing more than $500 a night, didn’t sell out, he said.

“That’s getting very, very busy,” he added.

Jerry Martin, general manager of the Surfsand Resort and Wayfarer Restaurant and Lounge, said they beat last year’s numbers. He noted that the restaurant’s business really picked up on Thursday and that there was anywhere from a 15 to 45 minute wait at any given time during the holiday weekend.

The Wayfarer can hold about 140 people inside and an additional 50 or so outside. Martin added that many on the Fourth came from Seaside, when the area was hit by a power outage caused by a metallic-skinned helium balloon that got caught in a main substation transformer.

George Vetter, who owns Village Centre featuring shops like A&J’s Ice Cream Plus and Ocean Spa, said many Cannon Beach businesses declared it a good weekend.

“It couldn’t have been better,” he said, with the nice weather.

Carrier also pointed to the weather — it was nice on the beach, but scorching hot in the valley — as a factor.

Cannon Beach’s big event was the annual Fourth of July parade, run by American Legion Post 168. It got its start in 1993 when residents Bob and Nancy Teagle decided there needed to be an Independence Day celebration. Bob has since died, but Nancy is still a member of the Legion.

“It’s just blossomed over the years,” American Legion’s Patrick Hegrenes said.

Post Commander Dan O’Reilly couldn’t participate due to injury, but his wife, Carla, sold beads and trinkets in front of the Legion. She watched “people step off the curb and join” in what Hegrenes called a celebration of “ultimate Americano.”

He added that anyone could participate, which makes “you feel good and proud.”

Nancy Teagle said she thought this year’s parade “was better than ever,” filled with people, dogs, cars and “lots of patriotism.”

She added that American Legion Post 168 is determined to get Cannon Beach’s military flyover back next year. The flyover had been eliminated because of a lack of funding.

Hegrenes noted that 397 people officially signed up for the parade this year, but that there “had to be well over 400” with those who joined in as the celebration rolled through downtown.

“It was a very good turnout,” he said. “It was one of the bigger parades we’ve had.”

Mo’s Seafood had a big float and the Jackson Street Chair Clacking Brigade entertained with a drummer and aluminum lawn chairs.

Visitors from the valley, surrounding states and beyond began arriving Thursday.

“We get a huge variety of visitors,” Carrier said, noting there was a minimum of 11 languages spoken over the weekend. “We get a lot of diversity, a lot of people from all over the world. They come because Cannon Beach does have a good reputation.”

Sen. Ron Wyden stopped by on Sunday during a tour of Travel Oregon’s Seven Wonders. Tables were packed outside restaurants and shops filled, Carrier said.

The chamber is working on getting an idea of how much is poured into the local economy over the Fourth of July weekend. Carrier said that includes the possibility of a credit card survey next year to see where dollars are spent.

While traffic can become a headache with all the tourists, Hegrenes noted that small coastal towns would “be like ghost towns” without them.

Despite the surplus of people, the weekend was relatively quiet. The Cannon Beach Police Department said there were about 20 calls of fireworks on the beach resulting in confiscations and a few people were told to move from noncamping spots, but no big arrests. There were two DUIIs.

Matt Gardner, training officer with the Cannon Beach Fire Protection District, said the holiday was “overall uneventful” for them.

“I thought it was just a great weekend,” Carrier said.

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