For the first time in three years, the streets of Langley will be teeming once again with parade goers celebrating one thing: the return of the gray whales to the Salish Sea.
The Welcome the Whales parade will roll through town on Saturday, April 23. The free-form parade known for its unique and zany costumes last happened in 2019.
The week of the parade is packed with several other whale-related events, beginning with a costume-making workshop for kids and families of all ages at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20. Environmental artist Joan Green and staff from the Langley Whale Center will help people make environmentally conscious costumes out of recycled materials, such as paper bag whale hats and baleen wands made from cloth pieces and wooden dowels.
Registration is $20 and covers the cost of costume materials. Scholarships are available by request.
That same day at 4 p.m., Cindy Hansen will be leading a virtual event for youth titled “Gray Whales: Return of the Sounders.” The event is free of charge but also requires registration.
Staging for the Welcome the Whales parade is 1 p.m. on April 23 in the U.S. Bank parking lot in Langley. At 1:30 p.m., the parade proceeds up Second Street and down First Street, ending near Seawall Park. A waterfront celebration, which includes a welcoming ceremony and whale-watching from the shore, is planned to run 2 to 2:30 p.m.
An educational presentation is slated for 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. that same day at the Whidbey Island Fairgrounds Pole Building. Registration in advance is required.
Sue Moore, an affiliate professor for the Center for Ecosystem Sentinels at the University of Washington, will be sharing her gray whale wisdom during her presentation, “Gray Whales as Sentinels of Climate Change.”
Moore has been studying unusual mortality events in gray whales, especially the ones known as the Sounders.
The last event of the week takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 24. A gray whale fundraiser cruise will set sail from the South Whidbey Harbor near downtown Langley.
The $95 registration fee includes a trip with Puget Sound Express crew and Orca Network staff and volunteers. Proceeds benefit the Orca Network’s education and outreach programs.
Since a minimum number of passengers is needed for the trip to proceed, registration must happen before April 18.