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Langley welcomes whales in grand fashion

Langley Mayor Fred McCarthy promotes the city’s sand shrimp advocacy by dressing like one and wearing signs that read “Save the Sand Shrimp” at the Welcome the Whales Day Parade on April 19.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Langley Mayor Fred McCarthy promotes the city’s sand shrimp advocacy by dressing like one and wearing signs that read “Save the Sand Shrimp” at the Welcome the Whales Day Parade on April 19.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

In any other setting, the no-show of honored guests is a total faux-pas.

When the guests are gray whales and the setting is the Langley Welcome the Whales Day Parade, exceptions are made like those made April 19.

“I thought it came off fairly well,” said Langley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Marc Esterly. “I had forgotten there are so many older whale parade participants that always show up.”

“By and large, it’s a localized event,” he added.

Throughout the morning leading up to the afternoon parade down Cascade Avenue and First Street to Seawall Park, people filtered through the city. Many found their way into the Langley Whale Center, reading about marine mammals, their diet and the Salish Sea, even being treated to a narrated animation by Drew Christie of Kalakala Co. titled “Song of the Spindle.”

Others, mainly children and parents, worked on arts and crafts like a whale fin hat and whale cutout at the Langley United Methodist Church that they could don and wave during the parade. One of the popular activities was viewing live barnacles and other objects through a microscope.

By parade time, First Street from the Village Pizzeria to Anthes Avenue was lined with people watching the spectacle of a frog, a pair of mermaids, a handful of jellyfish, one sand shrimp, and whale-costumed people stroll down the street to the tune of boombox music, drums and a wood flute.

“We typically have more people in the parade than watch it,” joked Esterly, who was at the front of the caravan with the Welcome the Whales banner sign.

Standing at Seawall Park dressed as a ghost shrimp, Langley Mayor Fred McCarthy remarked about the event’s attendance.

“This is the best turnout I’ve ever seen,” he said while holding a sign that read “Save the ghost shrimp.”

One family that recently moved to Langley joined in the whale honoring by casting love in the form of flower petals onto the beach, which was a large stretch during the afternoon low tide.

“It’s great,” said Helen Donier of Langley.

The parade itself differed from past years. Rather than starting at US Bank on Second Street and Anthes Avenue, the parade began at Island Church of Whidbey on Sixth Street and Cascade Avenue because of the construction work on Second Street. Parking did not seem to be a problem around town, with the lot by the Methodist Church nearly full and the Langley Main Street Association golf cart cruising around the commercial core.

“I don’t think that caused a problem,” Esterly said.

 

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