Story and photos by Doug Petrowski
Mountlake Terrace resident Chuck Mellinger may have the best seat at Friday’s Tour de Terrace parade – and if not the best seat, it will certainly be the bumpiest.
Mellinger is a member of the Lake City Western Vigilantes, and will most likely be riding a front-quarter panel of the 1946 International the group uses in parade appearances.
The Vigilantes is a volunteer organization that raises money for various youth groups throughout Western Washington. They collect, and then give away, thousands of dollars a year to school districts, boys and girls clubs, the Special Olympics, the Make-a-Wish Foundations, and many other groups. They also like to have a lot of fun.
“It’s a hoot,” Mellinger said just before the Vigilantes’ appearance in this year’s Everett Fourth of July parade.” You get to be a kid, and give back to the community.”
Mellinger, who goes by the name “Scarecrow” when dressed in the western gear synonymous with the Vigilantes, has been part of the group since 1993. “It’s an amazing thing, once you put on a costume, how it makes you more ‘outgoing’,” Mellinger said.
The Vigilantes appear in about 20 parades a year, but call the Tour de Terrace event one of their favorites. “We feel very welcome in Terrace,” Mellinger added.
Being a part of the Tour de Terrace parade, or any parade, is especially sweet for Mellinger this season after a major health scare in May. He suffered a trachea spasm and cardiac arrest while on his vacation property in southeastern Washington. Paramedics performed CPR for 20 minutes before an airlift helicopter transported him to Lewiston, Idaho, where he spent a week in intensive care.
Doctors have ordered him to quit smoking and rest his vocal chords. Mellinger has no problem giving up cigarettes, but resting his voice? “I told the doctors, ‘What planet do you live on?’”
For parades, Mellinger now has the Vigilantes carry a first aid pack containing syringes of epinephrine just in case he goes down and needs a dose of adrenaline quickly.
Mellinger has also suffered an injury while performing with the Vigilantes. “One time in Brier I had my foot run over,” he explained. “It was my own fault; I jumped off before we had stopped.”
After 19 years in the Coast Guard, Mellinger and his wife Lynda settled in Mountlake Terrace in 1986. He bought a trophy shop in 1993 and runs it with his wife and daughter, Glenda. He talks of retirement in the next five years, but does that include ending his time with the Vigilantes? Probably not – “The group voted me a lifetime member,” Mellinger concedes.
The Tour de Terrace parade is set for Friday evening, starting with an appearance by the Seattle Police Motorcycle Drill Team at 6:45 p.m. The parade travels north on 56th Avenue West, starting at 234th Street Southwest and ending at 224th Street Southwest. No doubt, Chuck Mellinger will be enjoying every block of it.