EVERETT — Kyle “Tumbleweed” Christiansen sat on the front of the red-and-yellow striped paddy wagon as it jumped along Colby Avenue, sirens blaring.
The vehicle stopped at Everett Avenue. Larry “Tex” Freeman pulled out a pistol and fired one blank round.
Bang! Christiansen fell to the pavement.
In seconds he was standing again. He climbed back onto the front of the mobile and continued to bump along the parade route.
The group, called the Lake City Western Vigilantes, joined about 90 other performers Thursday in Everett’s annual Fourth of July parade. Thousands lined several blocks downtown along Colby and Wetmore avenues.
This was the largest number of acts to ever be in the parade, said Carol Thomas, the city’s cultural arts manager. It took about two hours to complete.
“The truth is, this year we haven’t turned away anybody,” she said.
Next year they may need to have a cut-off for the number of entries, she said.
The Vigilantes, established in 1946, have been visiting the Everett parade for a couple of decades, Freeman said.
They collect donations during their performances and give them to agencies that support children, such as The Make-a-Wish Foundation and Special Olympics. They keep most of the money in the area it’s raised.
They go to about 20 parades a year, all over the state. James “Pack Rat” Yoder enjoys the crowd reactions.
“They love the paddy wagon, because it hops down the road,” he said. “They tell us to hit the hydraulics, but there are no hydraulics.”
Instead, the 1946 International is missing springs and shocks.
Cody Hansen, 8, has been attending the parade with his family for the past few years.
What’s his favorite part? “Where they have the drums,” he said.
He likes to hear the different instruments as the musicians march down the street.
The parade has become a part of the family’s yearly Fourth of July plan, said Corrina Hansen, Cody’s mom. They came from Mill Creek.
“It’s our way of bonding, you know, our special tradition,” she said.
Sisters Valentina Acosta, 4, and Audri Acosta, 8, wore matching outfits to the festivities. They both had red, white and blue wings attached to their backs — their own idea, said the girls’ mom, Ashley Acosta of Everett.
They’ve been coming to the parade for most of the girls’ lives, and like to see the big horses trot through the route.
Cheers followed the performers as they moved down the street, horns and drums echoing from a block away. Bubbles floated through the air.
Young children sat on their parents’ shoulders, “USA” painted on their cheeks in patriotic colors. Some waved mini American flags.