MANY HAPPY RETURNS – The star-spangled flotilla that comprised the Swinomish Yacht Club’s Opening Day Boat Parade made a return loop beneath the Rainbow Bridge Saturday afternoon. Sixteen vessels participated in the annual spring event on Swinomish Channel, marking the official start to the local boating season. The Harmony [insert] entertained the Oak Harbor High band, which had played earlier. – Photo courtesy Bill Reynolds
PERFECT HARMONY – Oak Harbor High band members played patriotic tunes while aboard the Harmony during the Swinomish Yacht Club's Opening Day Boat Parade on Saturday. Spectators lined the La Conner waterfront to view the 16-vessel event, which honored U.S. service members and veterans. – Photo courtesy Bill Reynolds
The local boating season opened Saturday with a salute to America’s service members. After that, everyone was pretty much at ease. It was a fun-in-the-sun kind of afternoon as crowds gathered along the sun-splashed La Conner waterfront to take in the Swinomish Yacht Club’s annual Opening Day Boat Parade. Sixteen star-spangled vessels cruised the channel, honoring U.S. troops, sailors and veterans while also adding to a festive atmosphere under ideal conditions. While he couldn’t take credit for the weather, Yacht Club Vice-Commodore Dan Irish did volunteer afterward it was his idea for the colorful spring flotilla to sport a patriotic theme. “I wanted us to do something to support our country,” Irish said, “but I didn’t want it to be just a red, white, and blue thing. I wanted it to serve a purpose.” That it did. And judging by the response among those viewing from the boardwalk and outdoor dining decks, it proved to be a popular choice. Taking an added interest in the parade was former La Conner Mayor Bud Moore, a retired U.S. Air Force officer whose dad, the late Milo Moore, was the Swinomish Yacht Club’s first Commodore. Moore stopped by the clubhouse at the La Conner Marina south basin parking lot to deliver a vintage promotional banner dating to a bygone Yacht Club Christmas Boat Parade. Moore’s links to the military and yacht club history made this year’s spring parade and Opening Day ceremonies especially meaningful to him. Ditto other veterans. Following the raising of flags prior to the parade, veterans in attendance were asked to step forward and be recognized. The ceremonial raising of U.S., Canadian, state of Washington and Yacht Club officers’ flags helped set the tone for the day. The mood was somber and reflective when members of the Burlington American Legion post, supported by an Oak Harbor High School ROTC unit, presented the colors. Things lightened considerably moments later when the state flag was unfurled as an Oak Harbor High pep band broke into a rousing rendition of “Louie, Louie.” The teen musicians thereafter boarded Josh Ellingson’s aptly named “Harmony” to play during the parade itself. Positive notes continued to fill the air after the parade concluded. “I thought it went great,” Irish said. “The weather was perfect. All the boats did a great job presenting the theme. It would be hard to pick one over the others.” On a day when American armed forces were honored, it was the Swinomish Yacht Club that turned in a command performance.