By Steve Guntli
Randy Parten, the new president of the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce, has an unusual idea for how to put the seaside community on the map.
Parten is spearheading a push to earn Birch Bay a place in the record books by orchestrating the world’s longest parade of Subarus.
“We in the chamber really wanted a fun activity that we could do early in the season and that would be resilient to any bad weather,” Parten said. “We’d been talking about doing this for a while, but we’ve got the applications turned in and we’ve got some great community partners, so we’re going for it.”
The chamber will be teaming up with Dewey Griffin Subaru in Bellingham to promote the event. Parten said he thought this particular record would be well suited to the region.
“The Pacific Northwest is Subaru country,” he said. “So many people drive them up here, so we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to bring this record back to the U.S.”
The current record was set last year in Moscow, when 549 Subarus lined up in the Moscow Raceway. Parten hopes to top that number, aiming for around 700 participants.
Though the event won’t be taking place until June 5, registration for slots in the parade has already begun. Participants can visit deweygriffinsubaru.com to sign up. Currently, more than 250 people have registered to help break the record.
“The slots are going fast, so we really wanted to let people know about this early,” Parten said.
The rules for breaking the record are fairly strict. Vehicles must form a continuous line in a 2-mile stretch of road. There can be no more than two vehicle lengths between cars and the count must be verified by counters along the route and through aerial photography.
To help get participants up to speed, the chamber will be staging vehicles in the Birch Bay Waterslides parking lot on Saturday, June 4. The chamber will move about 100 cars an hour through the staging area, where participants will be briefed on the route and protocol for the record.
They will also be treated to live entertainment from violinist Swil Kanim and others. Seattle Seahawks kicker Norm Johnson, who played for the Hawks from 1982 to 1990 and earned the nickname “Mr. Automatic” for his consistent accuracy, will emcee the event on both days.
The parade itself will start at noon on Sunday, June 5. The parade will take up a two-mile length of Birch Bay Drive, starting at the Harborview intersection and ending just before Birch Bay State Park.
Residents and businesses should be forewarned that the event could block traffic between noon and 5 p.m., though Parten said that length of time is an estimate to help account for any margins of error.
“Birch Bay is a great place to try to crack this record, because if you have to be moving slowly in a long line of cars, you couldn’t ask for a better view,” Parten said.
After the parade, participants can return to the Waterslides, where contests and prizes will be awarded in different categories, such as longest distance traveled or most miles on a car.
Registration for the world record attempt is $10 per driver and $5 for each additional passenger. To register, visit deweygriffinsubaru.com, or go to birchbaychamber.com.