Photo by Kira Erickson / Whidbey News Group                                Glass artist Callahan McVay shows how to shape a sea float during a demonstration.

Photo by Kira Erickson / Whidbey News Group Glass artist Callahan McVay shows how to shape a sea float during a demonstration.

2020 Sea Float Scramble bigger than ever

Sea float seekers, get ready. Langley’s annual Sea Float Scramble will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 4.

The event, now in its 10th year, will follow a format similar to previous years. Floats are placed on dry land at Seawall Park. A second location at Langley Park on Second Street and Anthes Avenue is available for kids under 5 years old and for those with disabilities.

The Sea Float Scramble is hosted and funded by the Langley Main Street Association, although in previous years the lodging tax funded it as a tourism activity. Callahan’s Firehouse provides the floats.

Glass artist Callahan McVay said the event is based on the county fair’s now-defunct barnyard scramble. As a little kid, he remembers being pecked by an angry goose while participating.

The Sea Float Scramble offers a more humane — and non-threatening — activity for youngsters to scoop up treasures to take home. The event was his idea.

The sea floats have undergone fine-tuning over the years. Floats were originally too big for a child to hold without dropping, so the size had to be minimized.

“Kids dominate the playing field,” McVay said. “They’re really fast and they’re low to the ground and they’re super focused.”

The sea floats are created with the aim of making “zero waste products.” McVay said floats are made mostly from scraps from his gallery and from a sheet glass factory. About 90 percent of materials are recycled.

Nearly a third of the 1,200 participants last year in the “extreme Easter egg hunt” were from out of town, according to McVay.

He credits the event with bringing economic development to the city, but believes it to be at max capacity. His gallery made 1,000 floats this year for the event.

“We stuck with 1,000, partially because Seawall Park can only handle so many people,” said Michaleen McGarry, executive director for Langley Main Street Association.

As usual, wishing stones will be given out by volunteers to mitigate sniffling.

Because there are often fewer floats than people participating, McGarry emphasized that people should take only one float home. For those looking for extras, Callahan’s Firehouse will offer discounts on the floats in the gallery.

And when the Sea Float Scramble begins, prepare to run.

“We jokingly say they’re hidden in plain sight,” McGarry said. “They’re all over the place. It’s more of a scramble, and when the cowbell rings they just sort of run for it.”

Photo by Kira Erickson / Whidbey News Group                                A barrel full of wishing stones in Callahan’s Firehouse.

Photo by Kira Erickson / Whidbey News Group A barrel full of wishing stones in Callahan’s Firehouse.

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