52 Getaways 2019: Summer
With a population of a mere 700 people, Yachats is usually a quiet town; its coastal tranquility makes it a place where visitors come to unplug and unwind. However, thanks to a past budget mix-up and years of experience, Yachats celebrates America’s independence with a big boom. On the Fourth of July, Yachats more than septuples in size, hosting over thousands of visitors from all over the globe. The town boasts all sorts of activities in one jam-packed day, from a rubber duck race down the river to one of the largest fireworks display in the state of Oregon.
The day starts off early at 7:00 a.m. with the Lions Club Pancake Breakfast. Residents and guests alike mingle amongst warm cups of coffee and a homemade meal provided by the local Lions Club. Visitors can get a taste of the town’s lively characters and the events they have in store. The cozy atmosphere and tasty treats are a great introduction to Yachats’ close-knit yet welcoming community.
However, everyone should take care not to fill up too much, as at 10:30 the Yachats Ladies Club hosts a special pie and ice cream social. These wonderful women are famous for their wide variety of homemade pies that they proudly serve every year. They sell out quickly, so it’s best to arrive as soon as possible.
After filling up on pie, it’s time to head down to the main event: Yachats’ famed “La De Da” Parade. Residents parade down the street with the ocean at their backs, throwing candy, dancing and waving to all the spectators. Floats and costumes range from firefighters, to the Kardashians, to a fish and fisherman; with hundreds of people participating, the possibilities are endless. The locals take pride in this tradition, so they go all out.
The excitement doesn’t stop there; at 2:30, the crowd takes a walk down to the beach, where the Yachats River meets the ocean, for perhaps the goofiest tradition of all: The Duck Race. Beforehand, tickets are on sale for anyone to claim as many ducks as they like. Once everyone has the numbers of their rubber racers, a large wooden chute is filled with hundreds of bright yellow ducks, and bam! The chute is opened, and they race down the river to the end of the track. Each year anywhere from fifty to ninety local businesses donate all sorts of prizes for the owners of the fastest ducks, from gift cards to hotel nights, so many racers don’t walk away empty-handed.
At the end of an exciting day, everyone settles down to watch a dazzling fireworks show under the night sky. According Buck Dortch of the Fireworks Committee, “The fireworks weren’t like this at first. We had a $3,000 surplus one year that we could use or save until next year. My theory: When we have extra cash, let’s blow it up. So that’s what we did. The next year, we had an even bigger surplus, and we blew that one up too. Now it’s a tradition, the locals fund it every year.” The spectacular fireworks show was an accident that turned into a Yachats showstopper.
The little community of Yachats celebrates Fourth of July in a big way. From the 7:00 a.m. pancake breakfast all the way to the 10:00 p.m. fireworks show, guests and locals alike get together to celebrate freedom and community.
Yachats is about three hours from Portland. To plan a getaway to Yachats, visit yachats.org. To book lodging in Yachats for the Fourth of July festivities, plan far ahead.
Alicia Kate Gordon is a high school student and a member of her school’s Travel Writers Guild. This story won a travel story competition for students at the Travel & Words Conference (travelwritersconference.com), an annual travel writers event in the Northwest.