Big crowd enjoys "Welcome the Whales Day" in Langley

A festive crowd of several hundred whale fans descended on Langley on Saturday for the city's annual Welcome the Whales Day.

After a parade of costumed sea critters and other animals through town, with Gary, the 20-foot-gray whale bringing up the rear, Mayor Paul Samuelson dedicated the city's new whale bell.

The whale bell, located next to the Dog House Tavern, is rung by visitors or residents whenever a gray whale is spotted in Saratoga Passage. The project was spearheaded by Michael Scullin of Langley, a South Whidbey High School student, as part of his combined senior and Eagle Scout project.

Now in its sixth year, Welcome the Whales Day was sponsored by the Orca Network and the Langley Chamber of Commerce. The event — held each year in April — honors and celebrates the spring arrival of resident gray whales to Whidbey Island. The day includes educational activities, music, presentations, and a "parade of species" featuring the Gary the Gray Whale.

After the parade, Veronica von Allworden gave a presentation at Langley United Methodist Church of aerial photos of gray whales and the "feeding pits" left behind on the beaches of Saratoga Passage. Members of the Orca Network also shared photos and stories from their recent trip to San Ignacio Lagoon, Baja, where the gray whales mate and have their calves.

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