Bellingham Procession of the Species a fun, carefree event

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 2, 2013 

Bellingham Procession of the Species, an annual spring event that honors the Earth and all its creatures, enters its 10 th year with an eclectic parade and celebration Saturday afternoon, May 4.

"It's a big opportunity to get the community together, and have some fun dancing in silly costumes," said Doug Banner of Bellingham, who's volunteered with the event since its inception.

Procession of the Species, modeled after similar events in cities around the country, started in 1995 in Olympia as part of 25th anniversary of Earth Day. It quickly spread across the U.S.

Only about 100 people attended that first event in Bellingham, Banner said. About 1,000 people participated last year, according to a Bellingham Police Department estimate.

Sounds of Nature is the theme of this year's parade. Those who don't want to march are encouraged to watch the fun, Banner said.

Participants mostly wear homemade masks or costumes. The parade has only three rules: No written or spoken words (i.e. political statements); no live animals, and no motorized vehicles.

Costumes range from simple to sublime, and feature creatures as diverse and outrageous as a banana slug, centipede, a jellyfish and a chicken riding a bicycle. For all sorts of video footage from past parades, search YouTube for "Bellingham Procession of the Species."

Bellingham resident Lyn Spangler also has participated and been a parade volunteer for the past 10 years.

Once she was part of a repair crew that carried a first-aid kit of sorts in a child's wagon. It was there for anyone to use if they had a costume malfunction.

"We had gaffer's tape and scissors and a stapler - all sorts of things," Spangler said.

She'll be there with her 8-year-old granddaughter, who's also participated every year. Her class at Bellingham's Columbia Elementary School will be part of a huge diamondback rattlesnake, to go with its studies that are focused on the American Southwest.

Spangler's own costumes are not as intricate, however.

"I've tended to keep it pretty simple. She's been a salmon, and we've been a bird and butterflies," Spangler said.

Lineup for the parade begins at 3:30 p.m., with the procession kicking off at 4 p.m. It starts on Lottie Street in back of the Bellingham Public Library and continues south on North Commercial Street, turning northwest onto West Holly Street and ending at Maritime Heritage Park, where music and celebration is planned.

Robert Mittendorf is a Herald copy editor and page designer. Contact him at 360-756-2805 or at robert.mittendorf@bellinghamherald.com.

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