The Daily Evergreen

‘The true volunteer of the Fourth’

Mittelhammer began baking pies for Pullman’s annual Fourth of July celebration 42 years ago

Linda+Mittelhammer%2C+from+left%2C+her+husband+Ron+and+Don+Blaney+pose+near+the+pie+table+at+the+Fourth+of+July+celebration+in+Sunnyside+Park+in+2010.
Linda Mittelhammer, from left, her husband Ron and Don Blaney pose near the pie table at the Fourth of July celebration in Sunnyside Park in 2010.

Linda Mittelhammer, from left, her husband Ron and Don Blaney pose near the pie table at the Fourth of July celebration in Sunnyside Park in 2010.

COURTESY OF PULLMAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

COURTESY OF PULLMAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Linda Mittelhammer, from left, her husband Ron and Don Blaney pose near the pie table at the Fourth of July celebration in Sunnyside Park in 2010.

EVELYN BOND, Evergreen reporter

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Every year since 1976, Linda Mittelhammer, also known lovingly as the “Pie Lady,” has been selling pies and desserts at Pullman’s annual Fourth of July celebration at Sunnyside Park.

Glenn Johnson, Pullman mayor and head of the celebration committee, said the city comes together to host the event.

“It’s not the city of Pullman donating $20,000 for fireworks,” he said. “’It’s a whole community effort under the Chamber of Commerce.”

Mittelhammer has been involved in the celebration since its first year. The holiday is also the anniversary of her and her husband’s first date back in 1971, which she said makes it special to her.

The thought to participate in the community’s Fourth of July celebration came to Mittelhammer when she moved to Pullman at the age of 19, she said. She and her husband Ron came just two days after their wedding in 1974 and their plan was to come to WSU so he could complete his doctorate degree.

To keep herself busy, Mittelhammer immersed herself in the Pullman community. She went to the Chamber of Commerce and asked what she could do. Mittelhammer said she has volunteered for Cabaret, the Main Street Association and the Chamber Board.

The process of getting ready for the Fourth of July celebration takes about a month and Mittelhammer said she gets as many donations of other desserts as she can.

“If I see them on Facebook showing off their desserts, I’ll ask them to make some things for us,” she said.

Mittelhammer also bakes desserts the night before the event and the day of, she said.

“I try to make things that people will be looking for that maybe I haven’t gotten,” she said.

Mittelhammer said when she used to work at a bank, community members would come drop off their pie donations to her or leave pies on her doorstep when she wasn’t home.

Many volunteers come together to support Mittelhammer as well, including her husband Ron’s former graduate student, Don Blaney. Although he graduated in 1987 and moved to Washington D.C., he still flies back every year to help, she said.

The volunteers are what make the Fourth of July in Pullman “a true community event,” Mittelhammer said.  Although the job requires dedication, she appreciates the support she receives.

“I’ve got a constant crew of friends that have committed themselves to helping,” she said.

One of those friends is Sue Hinz. She serves as a celebration committee member and runs the cotton candy booth at the event. Hinz described Mittelhammer as “the true volunteer for the Fourth.”

“Linda is a great volunteer and her work for the fourth is just wonderful,” Hinz said. “We count on her and she is always ready to be sure the desserts are there.”

Mittelhammer said she enjoys the connections she has made through her volunteer work.

“You just meet so many great people in this community,” she said. “Everybody is very friendly, I can’t begin to tell you how many friendships that we’ve made.”

Mittelhammer said her favorite part of the event is seeing the tradition continue.

“Kids of people that worked on it are now bringing their kids,” she said.

This marks the 43rd year the Pullman community has come together to celebrate the Fourth of July. Although the event is so large, it continues to run smoothly year after year.

“We always seem to pull it off, and Linda is a part of that,” Johnson said.

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‘The true volunteer of the Fourth’