This weekend marks the annual Seafair happenings here in the Pacific Northwest. There was the torch light parade last weekend, the navy boats have come into port, the Seafair Pirates have stormed the shores and the Blue Angels have been getting ready for their thunderous air show. Not to mention the hydroplanes have been testing out their circuit on Lake Washington.
There was an essay in one of our papers today by a guest columnist about Seafair. Seems this gentleman is longing for what he calls the good old days of Seafair. (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/235327_vessay05.html)
Having grown up on the hill that over looks the "pits" where this all takes place, I have a much different idea of Seafair. For me Seafair is a celebration of the most random things. There's a marathon, a beauty pageant, a parade, pirates, hydroplanes, the blue angels, and a log boom with lots and lots of drunk people. A month in advance the chain link fences start appearing along a normally unfenced area. Then there is the re-routing of all the traffic. The blocking off of all the streets that lead down to the lake. The noise that starts to get louder and louder as the big weekend approaches, from the practicing of the hydros to the boom of the Angels. As a child I learned quickly to shove cotton balls into my ears to escape this. However when the pilots wave at you as they go over head nothing seems to block out that unmistakable roar.
Up until seafair weekend, you can swim in Lake Washington. However after the boats and all the hundreds of people have congregated in the south end of the lake, I don't think you would want to touch that "water" with a ten foot pole. People line up early you see with their own boats on the log boom barrier. They want to get the best seat in the house. The boats are so thick that you can walk boat to boat without a fear of falling in. The laughing and singing carries up into the summer night air late into the night. In the morning you can wake up to drunk people walking around your normally quiet neighborhood looking for their next party.
The day of brings police barricades at each street entrance. They check your ID or a list. If you don't have the right address or are not listed on someone's list then you aren't allowed up. However people always find a way through. Did I mention parking? Picture a normal out of the way neighborhood street. Not to many cars right? Now picture race day in my old neighborhood. Every available opening is taken. If you are out of town then your neighbors use your driveway as an extra parking lot for all their buddies. What I am saying is that you either throw a party or leave town. There is no in between here. Fire trucks are lucky if they can squeeze through on this day. Cars are parked on the parking strips and in parts of the yard that aren't being used for the party. Occasionally a car that should be down at the "pits" finds its way up onto the hill. A couple years running the "Pete's Wicked Ale" limo came by and some how found a prime parking spot in view of the little look out spot at the end of the street. Why do I mention this? This was not a normal car. It had a keg in the trunk full of ale and the passengers had the tap in the back seat with them. It brings a whole new meaning to drunk driving.
Now what about the "pits"? Once long ago it was free to get in. You could walk around and see the boats up close talk to the drivers and the mechanics. Then they raised it to $5 but if you said that you lived close by they would generally let you in for free. Now it is something like $20 and they take you on a "tour". Not so much fun.
When I hear the words Seafair I tend to want to run for cover. I am glad that I no longer live near it. I don't miss any of it. I think it is so funny how people get so excited about it. These days it seems the same boat always wins the race and the drunk people do all the same stupid things of years gone by. I am not nostalgic for the scary dreaded Seafair pirates or the boats that go around in a circle. Yes, the Blue Angels are really cool but I am glad that I don't see the pilots waving at me while I am in my front yard playing anymore. Not all of us miss the yester year of drunken debauchery that happens at Seafair.