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Haggen employees (left to right) Emily Tulett, Pilar Hari and Jordyn Doyle, running the gutter boat racing booth at the Haggen 4th of July Celebration on July 4, 2019. // Photo by Maya Anderson By. Maya Anderson Hundreds gathered to celebrate the holiday with family and friends at this year’s annual Haggen 4th of July Celebration. The event was held at Zuanich Point Park and featured live music, games, activities and food vendors. “It's a wonderful way to interact with the community,” Pilar Hari, who works in Haggen’s events department, said. “We don't get much time to talk with our shoppers. We want them to know we're grateful for them.” Live performances were from the Bellingham Youth Jazz Band, The Springman Family Band, Lemon Creek and Full Metal Racket. Full Metal Racket is the 133rd Army Band contingent from the Washington National Guard Camp Murray base near Lakewood. They closed out the night just before the fireworks show and provided the stage and sound support for the other bands. “It's the greatest job in the world,” Sgt. Megan Nelson, who has been with the band for four years, said. Full Metal Racket typically performs one weekend each month and blocks out a two-week period for performances every summer. The band plays anything from country music to heavy metal. “We'll go wherever the community wants us,” band member Scott Rauch said. “Whatever genre they want they can get.” Haggen employees from Whatcom County's five stores helped run many of the activity booths, including cornhole, gutter boat racing and giant Connect 4. Face painting was provided by Chelle Beautiful Face and Body Painting and other art activities like rock painting were provided by Allied Arts of Whatcom County. “No one really grows up,” Rachel Andrews, owner of nonprofit Inner Child Studio said. She noted that adults often do not get a chance to indulge in more imaginative activities. “Our goal is to make sure everyone keeps playing,” she said. The organization provides a creative outlet for both children and adults of all abilities, supplying games for the event like giant Legos and checkers. Food was provided by vendors from Jalapeños, Pizza'zza, Simmering Tava and more, keeping event attendees fed between activities while several businesses ran booths with giveaways. “[The event was] a great opportunity for everyone to get together and enjoy the fantastic view in celebration,” McGarity said. Stephanie and Mike Kuhn are new Bellingham residents who have spent several years outside the country. They moved from North Carolina just seven months ago to be closer to family. “We've lived overseas in places where there is no freedom,” Stephanie Kuhn said. “It's special being in a place where we can celebrate without oppression.” According to the Port of Bellingham website, the annual event is a partnership between Haggen Food and Pharmacy, the Bellingham Whatcom Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Port of Bellingham. Fireworks were provided by Wolverine West Fireworks.

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