Since 2004, hundreds of Whatcom County residents have gathered as plant, animal and mineral in order to celebrate spring’s annual Procession of the Species parade. Imagine Dr. Seuss-like creatures as they walk, crawl, slither or flock to Bellingham’s downtown city streets, as the community honors all of nature’s species.
Originally established in 1995 by a group of Olympia residents who were passionate about the renewal of the Endangered Species Act as well as Earth Day, the collective was able to unite the ideals of both movements into one day of imagination, education and fun for the entire community. As a result of Olympia’s success, the movement has spread to several cities—including Bellingham.
Planning for the parade begins six weeks in advance, as those interested in transforming from their human form into animal, plant or insect are encouraged to leave their cocoons and take flight, with the assistance of glue guns, feathers, recycled trash bags and pipe cleaners. (DIY crafting a la Martha Stewart and Tim Burton sounds pretty fitting, don’t you think?)
Creativity and imagination are paramount. As a result, a variety of workshops are held at Maritime Heritage Park that are designed to instruct humans in the construction of recycled raptor ensembles and bee antennae. The focus on using sustainable materials for costumes is not only eco-friendly, but should please the likes of tricycling adults all over Whatcom County.
The final workshop commences the day of the parade, May 5, in front of City Hall. Winged creatures, creepy crawlers and furry friends alike will unite behind the Bellingham Public Library to begin the procession downtown via Commercial to Holly Street, ending at Maritime Heritage Park. When the parade concludes at 5pm, onlookers and participants will treated to a performance by musical guest Kuungana.
The humans behind this celebration of all things species are a passionate group connected with Allied Arts of Whatcom County, known as Start Here Community. As volunteers, SHCArts manage all the setup and takedown of the event. Volunteers are in demand each year, particularly those with a penchant for things that go bump in the night.
Last year the Bellingham Police Department estimated attendance at 800-1,200 people. Show up early, bring an open mind, enjoy whimsical creatures from every eco-system and imagine yourself in the land of Ferngully. Rain or shine.
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