Here it comes again–another notch in the spring belt, the Opening Day of Boating Season.
While the rest of the country goes bonkers over a horse race in Kentucky, we’re all about the 106th annual celebration of all things nautical in Seattle, when crowds line the Mortlake Cut next to the University of Washington to first watch a series of crew races, followed by the traditional parade of boats with all the yacht clubs from the area showing off their finest.
It’s free and for a lot of people, an annual tradition. Bring the lawn chairs and set up camp as you watch yachts, steamboats, vintage craft, sailboats and more float by to the cheers of the crowd.
We won’t make it this year, but I have to admit I have quite a few of these under my belt.
Back when I was Larry Nelson’s producer at KOMO radio in the early 1980s, KOMO was “your Husky station” and part of that honor included broadcasting the crew races. I remember the voice of the Huskies, Bob Rondeau and the Husky Crew Coach Dick Erickson, doing the play-by-play as the KOMO 4 helicopter flew overhead.
The day didn’t end there. KOMO’s Traffic Reporter Ted Garlatz invited everyone on his boat to go out on the water and hop from yacht club to yacht club. To be honest, I’m surprised we didn’t crash into anything along the way. Or, maybe we did and just kept going. Yes, alcohol was involved.
Years later, I went on a sentimental trip there was a previous father-in-law, who had been a coxswain for the UW back in the late 40s. He loved being back there again, as he had done his fair share of opening day regattas. I’m convince that he’s the guy yelling instructions at the rowers in the blown-up picture on the wall of the Northgate Ram Restaurant.
Then, when I first got together with Victoria, we were regularly invited guests aboard the Oberg’s boat for opening day. First, going out with the rest of the yachts that were tied up and then, eventually, just partying from shore and walking over to catch the parade.
Yes, that first Saturday in May means a lot of things to lots of people. To some, it’s the Kentucky Derby, while others look forward to the annual free pancake breakfast at McLendon’s Hardware. No matter how you celebrate it, it’s a special day. This year, we won’t be going to the cut, but instead are heading up to catch the tulips that made it this far. Oh, and it’s my wife’s birthday.
As I said, it’s a very special day.