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June 3, 2020

4/8/2020 4:35:00 PM
COVID-19 outbreak rains on popular La Conner tulip parade
Bill Reynolds

The coronavirus threat has done more than put a damper on the local economy.

It has also washed out one of La Conner’s favorite Tulip Festival highlights, the Not-So-Impromptu Tulip Parade downtown, that has been a crowd pleaser here for more than three decades.

The uniquely funky local event was to have been held in town again on Saturday afternoon. Like the rest of the Tulip Festival schedule, it was scuttled to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Parade-goers have gathered on First Street every April since the mid-1980s when the late La Conner Kiwanian Luke Long and friends from the Nile Oriental Band put together the first Tulip serpentine.

It all evolved quite quickly back then, with Long enthusiastically unveiling his parade concept shortly beforehand one afternoon in the old Channel Town Press office.

Because there was some planning involved – Long, after all, was a detail-oriented electrical engineer – the Not-So-Impromptu label fit.

Over the years, the parade grew in both stature and numbers. Fond memories, meanwhile, have been countless.

“I will definitely miss the Not-So-Impromptu Parade this year,” La Conner Chamber of Commerce Director Heather Carter told the Weekly News. “I have several fond memories. The first year here as Chamber Director I decorated our ATV and my husband and kids helped hand out La Conner coupons to parade-goers.”

Until the coronavirus outbreak, this year promised to create no shortage of new memories for those taking in the parade.

Tami Mason of Washington Federal, the parade’s sponsor, had met in planning sessions with Tulip Festival Executive Director Cindy Verge since last November.

“We were all very excited,” Mason said Friday at her La Conner branch office. “I was really gung-ho on it.”

The La Conner Tulip Parade regularly draws an eclectic mix of colorful entries – from the one-of-a-kind Swinomish Sloughmander and Meow Mix car to popular line dance teams and pep bands.

Mason vows that after its one-year hiatus the parade, much like tulips on the La Conner Flats, will again be a blooming success.

“What I want to do,” she said, “is make next year’s parade bigger and better than ever. That’s my goal.”


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