Preserving the History of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Seattle, Washington

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Centennial Boat Parade

The Adventuress and crowd just before parade start. photo Kyle S.

July 9, 2017 saw a pageant of boats sailing from the Chittenden Locks through the Ship Canal to it's conclusion at the bottom of Lake Union. This was something of a recreation of the parade of boats which took place in 1917, to celebrate the official dedication and opening of the "Government Locks" and ship canal. Several years ago, there was one boat, the Zina, known to exist in the area which had been present for that original parade. Subsequently, two others were found, the Keewaydin, named the Honey Boy in 1917, and the Glorybe. The Glorybe had been burned in a fire and sunk in 2002, but had been rescued, and remarkably restored and still sails in local waters to this day. The Keewaydin, was in a state of some disrepair, but structurally sound, and was bought by a local party who have been restoring the boat to her former classic beauty. Meanwhile, the Zina, which had participated in previous anniversary sailings in the ship canal, was destroyed in a fire, just a few short years before the Centennial. the Roosevelt, which led the parade in 1917, was long since left to the elements in the Panama Canal after suffering too much damage to make repairs feasible.

The parade begins. photo Kyle S.

Without the Roosevelt to lead the parade, it was decided to pursue the Adventuress to lead the Centennial Boat Parade, have the two known surviving boats from the original parade take their part, and add up to 50 other vessels which might have historic or other such significance to the area. A committee of volunteers from the Making the Cut group, started the request for participating boats from local yacht groups, and others with sailing vessels, eventually coming up with almost 50 boats willing to participate with vessels built as early as 1906. Then followed months of planning, acquiring permits from the City of Seattle, the Coast Guard, and many "Captain's Meetings", to go over all the fine points of the parade. As the Ship Canal is a heavily used waterway, used by commercial and pleasure craft,  and the parade was to enter Lake Union where Kenmore seaplanes seem to land and takeoff with astounding regularity, it was an absolute necessity to have the plans in place to accommodate all the involved parties with safety being of paramount importance. On top of all of this was the need to structure the parade so as to minimize bridge openings and cause the least amount of inconvenience to motorists on the day.

Published map of the 2017 Centennial Boat Parade map

List of boats who signed up to participate in the parade

A Coast Guard Auxiliary then a Coast Guard Patrol Boat went ahead of Parade to clear the course as much as possible, then the Seattle Police Vessel Harbor 04 bring up the end in case of any disturbances , of which there were none. All the vessels were lined up at the ready at their assigned places and when the Adventuress, Glorybe, and Keewaydin, passed them in the canal, they all took up their designated positions in the parade and followed it to it's conclusion at the south end of Lake Union.

Adventuress, Keewaydin, and Glorybe lead the parade. photo by Kyle S.

The Adventuress and Virginia V moored at the historic boat dock beside MOHAI, and the remaining parade vessels all sailed by in review, mimicking the parade review from the 1917 event. The ship canal was lined with spectators, as was the Chittenden Locks, and the bridges en route. The crowd lining the path were treated to a very rare spectacle and clapped, waved and cheered as the procession passed them by. The Seattle Fireboat sailed into the middle of Lake Union and put on a truly amazing exclamation point on the day with all fire hoses opened!

UW crew team and the Ancient Mariners. photo by Kyle S.

In all there were some 43 boats participating, a rowing crew from the UW, the Ancient Mariners rowing crew, and a Native canoe who joined in from the Fremont Bridge. It was an extremely successful event, which was planned down to the last detail and with only a slight hiccup, went off exactly as planned and advertised. A comment was made about the lack of a keynote speaker, but apparently this individual missed the formal Centennial celebrations at the locks on the actual anniversary July 4. There, many speeches were given by, Col. John Buck USACE, Cheryl Pettersen, a descendent of Hiram Chittenden, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Mayor Ed Murray, Rear Adm. David Throop Coast Guard, and Council Member Jeanne Kohl-Welles. The day of the Centennial Boat Parade, did not feature a "Keynote speaker" per se, but did have several volunteers in 3 viewing spots to add commentary as the parade passed. It was also noted that the free handbook distributed during the parade had some pages in incorrect order. True, but the boats were numbered and the information and pics in the pamphlet corresponded to the numbered boats in the parade.

Parade view from Virginia V. photo by Kyle S.

The Lotus. photo by Kyle S.

Classic yacht Red Jacket, festooned for the parade is closely followed by ...
the more modest, but also unique and historic, Puffin

Much work by many people over many months went in to this historic event. The Parade Committee especially should be noted. Brian Westerman, Susan Connole, Colleen Wagner, Judie Romeo, John Shrader, Jim Adams, Marie McCaffery, Kate Murphy, all contributed mightily and pats on all the collective backs and sincere thanks to all for their efforts. Thanks also to the permitting agencies for their cooperation in this endeavor. Our local boating excursion company, Argosy, provided Parade Marshal boat, Beaver, (they also provided free tickets on-board Sightseer, as did Virginia V,  for local community groups, Ballard Senior Center, Ballard Boys and Girls, Seattle Public Library, and several from ACE. The parade received help and support from 4Culture and Discover Your Northwest. No event, such as this one, takes place without an enormous amount of planning and effort, and all who took part or witnessed the event can be grateful that our region has so many such individuals and organizations.

Most of the details of the parade planning, and the parade itself, come from Brian Westerman.

Crowds along the canal.

Crowds enjoying the parade.

The parade en route.