Tomorrow is the big day! Get ready, Wallyhooders, for the 68th annual Wallingford Family Parade. You read that correctly: sixty-eighth! I can’t imagine anything going on for that many consecutive years, but for some reason, our small, neighborhood event has endured almost seven decades. Our humble parade may not boast a critical mass of nude cyclists or feature rainbow-themed everything, but what we do offer is lots of cuteness.
The parade was formerly called the Wallingford Kiddie Parade and welcomed any and all children in the neighborhood to participate in the proud, joyful march down 45th Street to crowds of curious and delighted onlookers. While the “kid” concept is alive and well, the name was changed several years ago in an effort to reflect the changing fabric of the Wallingford community. This year, the organizers decided to up the cute factor by inviting nonhuman family members to participate also (i.e., dogs, guinea pigs, and well-behaved cats.)
All participants are encouraged to dress up, even the furry ones, which, of course, is all part of what makes it such a festive community event. And this year will feature another Family Parade first: a canine grand marshal. After spending a short time with Sasha out and about in the neighborhood, it was easy to see why he was chosen for this important position: Nearly everyone we encountered, whether at the park or on the sidewalk, seemed to know this enormous Tibetan mastiff and his family–human parents Jim and Ricardo; two other Tibetan mastiffs, Diego and Oso; and two tiny Pomeranians, Sparky and Willy, who seem to be mini versions of the bigger dogs. This diverse family of seven attracts a lot of attention and questions everywhere they go. But as long-time Wallingford residents, Jim and Ricardo have always welcomed the opportunity to get to know their neighbors.
While at the park, we encountered dozens of other dogs, in various sizes and colors, who all seemed to know each other. It was endearing to see them all romping and frolicking together in the grass on a pleasant summer evening, while the parents mingled and chitchatted, including many conversations about the upcoming parade! If Lily, Patches, Scruffy, and all those other dogs show up on Saturday, it is sure to be a successful day!
After the parade, kids can participate in the Hide & Seek game, which debuted two years ago. It operates like a scavenger hunt where kids need to find laminated parade-dog pictures hidden at participating neighborhood merchants. The merchants stamp each child’s passport when a dog is found, and there are prizes for those who find them all. One of the prizes is an almost-Sasha-size teddy bear donated from Kids on 45th consignment shop!
Unfortunately, the future of this popular, family-friendly, beloved community event is uncertain. While the parade seems to have no problem finding sponsorship from local businesses, there seems to be a lack of interest when it comes to volunteering and doing the actual work of planning, promoting, and preparing. According to the event’s promoters, Debbi Larson and Cynthia Payne, there are basically only three people, including them, putting in most of the legwork. A recent partnership with Tilth Alliance, which provides nonprofit benefits, space, volunteers, and other resources, has been a huge help with keeping the event going this year. But, even with the Tilth partnership, they believe the parade needs to get its own nonprofit status with several committed board members and a crew of volunteers to really make it a thriving neighborhood event.
A little more history from Debbi:
The Wallingford Chamber took over the parade in 2013 when the Wallingford Neighborhood Office closed. As president I asked other organizations to help out since we couldn’t do it all on our own, so the Wallingford Community Senior Center helped us and was our fiscal agent for two years. We were able to gain access to the Lincoln HS parking lot to muster so we could march east and turn on Bagley into the park for the festival. We changed the name at that time. The WCSC was not able to continue helping us due to a city funding cut to their organization, so we were not able to continue the festival. The chamber helped with the parade for a couple more years, and this year Tilth stepped in.
These are just tentative plans for now, but if you are interested in getting involved with the event for next year, as a board member or volunteer, please contact Debbi or Cynthia and let them know. They want to see the Wallingford Family Parade make it to 69! And I, for one, am looking forward to participating in the parade for the very first time with my (human) son, and I hope it won’t be the last!
PARADE DETAILS & CONTACTS
Want to Join the Parade? Individual family members (human and nonhuman) can just show up at the muster site (Lincoln High School parking lot) in the morning to sign in. Click here for more details.
More Parade Info:
The parade begins at Interlake Avenue N, goes east on N 45th and ends at Bagley Avenue N.
Parade start time is 11 a.m.
Hide & Seek Game will begin immediately after, with the prize drawing at 3pm. More info
Debbi Larson: [email protected]
Cynthia Payne: [email protected]
Volunteer Info/Sign up (for today or tomorrow): http://www.seattletilth.org/get-involved/volunteer/events/wallingford-parade