Crowds salute Fourth in style

Fort Vancouver celebration a sea of red, white and blue clothing

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

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Fourth of July photos shot by The Columbian staff.

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photoFireworks explode during the Fourth of July celebration at Fort Vancouver on Wednesday.

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photoNu Wave Machine takes the stage and prepares to start their set during the Fourth of July celebration at Fort Vancouver on Wednesday.

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Folks of all stripes flocked to Independence Day at Fort Vancouver on Wednesday to celebrate, but one thing united them all — their love of putting a flag on it.

All-American red, white and blue reigned supreme as the fashion trend of the day as thousands took the Fourth as an opportunity to wear their patriotism on their sleeves, literally.

While most chose simple outfits — blue shorts and a red shirt, for example — some people's ensembles could almost upstage the massive fireworks show later in the evening.

Denise Buchanan headed to donate blood for the Red Cross wearing American flag shorts, a U.S.A. necklace and a T-shirt with wolves superimposed on a flag. The Vancouver resident brought along her foster children and also invited former foster children along. Every single one of them was dressed up and ready. One boy, she added, even shaved U.S.A. into the back of his head.

The shorts she wears every year, but she said she picks a new shirt at Walmart each year, and all make an appearance only on the Fourth of July.

"It's the only day I can be patriotic without everybody thinking I'm weird," Buchanan said, laughing.

Thousands filled the lawns at the fort, hit up food and other vendors and listened to live music as they waited for the big fireworks show at 10:05 p.m. Officials said Wednesday evening that they didn't yet have a crowd estimate and that everything was going smoothly.

Near the free speech area at Officers Row, Tracy Wilson, 53, walked through wearing a shirt that got

in not only a flag, but the Statue of Liberty, fireworks and excerpts from The Star Spangled Banner and the Constitution.

And unlike most, he said he wears that shirt and several others like it year-round. Though he lives in Vancouver, Wilson said he got the shirt at a fishing shop in Mesa, Ariz., and he wears it to We the People and other Tea Party meetings.

"I wear it a lot; I'm not just a Fourth of July patriot," Wilson said, as someone passing by remarked, "Nice shirt!"

Hanging out on a blanket with her friends, Cheray Seamster, 19, of Portland went with a customized look. She bought a $5 American flag peace sign shirt at Target and cut it so that the neckline was wider and put fringe at the bottom. On the back, she puff-painted, "Smile we're free!" She paired it with cutoff shorts, red Toms shoes and a red flower in her hair.

Seamster said she dresses up for most holidays, and was an elf at Christmas.

"It's just the holidays, I like to dress up for the cause," she said.

Two-year-old Amy Sue Kyle and her sister, Catherine, 1, were two of many matched siblings spotted during the day. They both wore flag-themed dresses as they munched hot dogs with their parents, Mike and Amy, and their older sister, Brittney, 13.

The whole family said they dressed up together last year, but this year they bought one dress for Amy Sue and handed down the last dress to their youngest. Amy Kyle said that while the patriotic duds are ones that only get a little bit of mileage, she does try and stretch their use.

"I try (to get them to) wear them the whole week," she said.

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542; http://www.twitter.com/col_cityhall;andrea.damewood@columbian.com.