Skywater opens season of fun
By Meg Olson
This week will end with the summer solstice: the longest day of the year, the lowest tides and celebrations of the golden days of summer. From parades in Blaine to sandcastles in Birch Bay, local communities will be kicking off a busy summer season.
The Skywater festival in Blaine has welcomed the warm weather for more than a decade, despite a brief hiatus in the late 1990s. Following the success of last years revamped event, Skywater 2001 will mix the traditional parade with a two day fair at Blaine Marine Park.
The parade will feature old favorites like local fire trucks, the Hrutfiord tractors and the Wilder family Percherons, along with new additions, including the new Blender youth center and Blaine Community Theater. It starts at noon at F Street and Peace Portal Drive and winds down Peace Portal to Cherry Street. Local police will close Peace Portal Drive and feeder streets at least a half hour before the event, so parade goers with small children or mobility problems need to plan parking or drop-off arrangements.
Skywater coordinator Stephanie Christianson said that, while sooner is better to get parade entries in, latecomers will still have a chance to participate. Were not going to turn people away, she said. We want as many people as we can.
Parade director Sue Spencer said over 60 applications had been handed out for the parade, so she expected quite a show. Parade entrants are asked to show up at the staging area in front of the Blaine Library at 10 a.m. for judging at 11 a.m. Kids dont need any entry forms, Spencer said. Any kid that wants to be in the parade on a bike, in a costume, on rollerblades, can come to the old Gull station parking lot at 11 a.m. For parade entry information contact Spencer at 332-5123.
The Skywater fair will follow the parade with music, food, artists, local wares and a free carnival for kids. Its smaller than it was going to be but about the same as last year, said Christianson of the collection of inflatable games, mazes and slides. In order for us to do it for free we had to scale back a little. The chamber of commerce tightened its belt on summer community events after the city of Blaine opted to significantly reduce events funding in March.
Christianson said a Skywater highlight will be the concentration of local bands on the schedule. With the exception of the first band, all the others on Saturday are local bands who play original material, she said. Local music heroes 40-Foot-Fakeout will top off a series of five homegrown bands, performing a 9 p.m. on Saturday. Sunday will also feature a roster of diverse local musicians and Christianson said there are still a few slots open for groups that would like to perform.
Always running in the background, a growing collection of vendors will keep everyone fed and fascinated. Theres a lot of diversity, said vendor organizer Caroll Solomon, estimating over 30 vendors had signed up.
Local pizza and ice cream purveyors Figaros Pizza and All-American Ice Cream will be peddling their wares beside vendors of buffalo burgers and a barbecue stand. Local artists will be featured along the boardwalk: sculptors, watercolorists, painters and stained glass artisans. Shoppers can browse through stalls selling handcrafted soap, candles and beadwork and pick up this years Skywater T-shirt.
Volunteers are still needed to keep the carnival running smoothly. If I could get eight volunteers for every hour were there things would really run, Christianson said. Thats a lot of volunteers. If people could come down and let their kids play in the carnival and help out for an hour it would be great. Prospective volunteers can sign up with Christianson at 332-5335 or 201-8676.
Skywater is the kickoff for a summer long roster of events around Drayton Harbor that includes a toast with White Rock representatives at the Peace Arch July 1, fireworks from Blaine Marine Park and a celebration at Resort Semiahmoo July 4, a visit from the tall ship Lady Washington in August, an outdoor movie series downtown and an antique car show.
The Birch Bay chamber of commerce has planned a similar menu of summer events celebrating life on the beach. Last weekend nugget hunters combed Birch Bay beaches for a chance to win a prize from local merchants and the summer sandcastle series kicks off June 21, with monthly contests until the fall.
In July, Discovery Days favorites are back, despite some worries the event wouldnt pull together this year. Rather than fewer events this year there will be more, with an added art show and sale in August. For more information about additional activities call the Birch Bay Chamber at 371-5004.