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May 5: Opening Day Boat Parade in Friday Harbor

Everyone is invited to the Friday Harbor waterfront at 2:15pm on Sunday, May 5th for the island’s annual Opening Day Boat Parade.  Visualize a combination music festival and 4th of July parade on the water.  The parade can best be viewed from Spring Street Landing and adjoining waterfront locations, but the Yacht club will be open as well in case the weather does not cooperate and for the concert after the parade.

The parade’s theme is “San Juan Island Rocks!” and we are inviting everyone to participate.  The double entendre is intended to drive a theme that celebrates our love of the island with music that expresses the joy of living in such a magical place. In keeping with this theme, Kim Miller, world famous musicologist, published author, philanthropist and enthusiastic boater in the Pacific NW will be our Grand Marshall.

Boats of any size, whether power, sail, or human-powered, are eligible to enter the parade. Registration is free, but entrants must register and receive a number to be in the parade.  Register online at www.sjiyc.com.  The Port of Friday Harbor is giving a free night of moorage on either Saturday, May 4th or Sunday May 5th to all parade entrants.  

During the parade the main functions will be at the Spring Street Landing where the announcer, dignitary and judges boats will be tied up to observe the parade.  Boats will parade before local dignitaries and judges with prizes awarded in five categories:  most creative display of the theme, nautical display of traditional signal flags, classic wooden boat, human-powered craft, and commercial.  

After the parade there will be a classic rock concert at the San Juan Island Yacht Club, 273 Front Street, that everyone is free to attend starting at 3:30 PM.  The Parade Awards Ceremony will be held at 4:30 PM and will be followed by more music and fun.  

The parade is sponsored by the San Juan Island Yacht Club in partnership with the Port of Friday Harbor.

From our Grand Marshall Kim Miller:

In 1996, my husband Steve Miller and I were at our home in Sun Valley Idaho watching the snow fall outside.  Steve was looking at a boating magazine and saw a very small ad for a property in the San Juan Islands ~ Friday Harbor, that had a big, protected dock with a lovely old house and was close to town.  Our boat the mighty Abracadabra needed a new home and so did we. 

Steve said to me, let’s go see it and soon, as it was January and we wanted to see what the San Juan Islands were like in the darkest days of winter.  We were friends with Pat O’Day, a real estate agent on the island, so we called him up to schedule an appointment to see the place. I have known Pat since I was a little kid as he was part of my father, Lester Smith’s, various businesses, Kaye-Smith, which consisted of radio stations, a concert company called Concerts West, a musical recording company, etc.  Danny Kaye the actor was my dad’s business partner, hence the business name being Kaye-Smith. 

We made an appointment with Pat O’Day and got ourselves over here for a look see.  We fell in love with the place and felt right at home with the beauty of the islands and the kind and welcoming people here. Steve loved this place.  He liked going to the local nightclub and playing with the other musicians on Blues Night. 

One 4th Of July evening Steve got his guitar out - our house was perched on a hill overlooking the bay and town.  He played a beautiful rendition of The Star Spangled Banner from the deck and afterwards we heard a smattering of applause from around the bay.  Fun! 

Steve loved this place and I do too.  I can’t think of any other place I’d rather be.  And the winters are not bad either.  We have boated for decades throughout the Salish Sea and have never felt more at home than here on San Juan Island. 

Being Grand Marshall is very humbling for me and I am grateful to the yacht club for this honor and hope the whole community turns out and celebrates the start of another wonderful boating season.

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