They came, they ran around, they went home with a beautiful flash of glass.
Once again, Langley’s Sea Float Scramble came and went in a blur of busy bodies the first Saturday of the year.
Squeals of delight rang out as hundreds of kids big and small nabbed the sun-kissed souvenirs carefully placed in plain site around Seawall Park.
Positioned at the front of the crowd by arriving ridiculously early, James Petts, 58, of Freeland, described himself “as a kid at heart” competing in the scramble for second time.
“Kick every one else out of the way. That’s my strategy,” he joked before the 11 a.m. official start time.
While it took months to plan the scramble and create its fist-sized floats, the actual grab for glass is a short-lived event.
“We started at 8 o’clock this morning and we’ll be done at 11:04 a.m.,” said Janet Ploof, volunteer with Langley Main Street Association that organizes and sponsors the scramble. “I just love the expressions of the kids. They are so thrilled to have something glass to take home.”
About 1,200 floats were created at Callahan’s Firehouse Studio and Gallery using the traditional — and fiery hot —glass-blowing method. It’s financed with a $10,000 grant from the tourism lodging tax.
A drone flying overhead caught all the action on video.
Many families scattered about in different directions after the mad mass dash from both sides of the narrow beachside park.
They then reunited and proudly showed off the colorful free treasures. Most appeared to abide by the “one and done” request of Mayor Tim Callison so that everyone had a chance to find a float.
“We loved it. It was fun,” said mother and daughter, Becky and JoJo Harless from Oak Harbor. “It was definitely worth the drive. We came down and had breakfast before the scramble.”
A separate less crowded and frantic scramble took place in a small park for the wee ones and those needing some assistance.
The crowd was estimated at 1,200, with about 30 percent of participants from off island and some international visitors from Spain, Germany and other countries.
“I never did this before,” said Michelle Leonard, visiting with her mother and young son. “It was pretty wild. I just stepped back and watched. To see the joy on the kids’ face, that’s what it’s about.”