Drivers reminded to look at road, not tulips, as Skagit festival begins

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDApril 1, 2014 

2014 Tulip Festival

Anita McDonald, from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, captures photos of tulips and daffodils, Monday, March 31, 2014 at RoozenGarde in Mt. Vernon. "I came to photograph the flowers and this is my first time here," McDonald said. "It's amazing here and I am coming back next week when the tulips are blooming."

MATT MCDONALD — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival got underway Tuesday, April 1, though the height of the blooming season is still a week or so away.

Tulip Town plants over 1 million tulip bulbs of 50-plus varieties that bloom early-, mid- and late-season, so there are tulips to see throughout the growing season, according to organizers.

Dozens of festival events happen during April, including a parade April 12. For details, go to tulipfestival.org.

The big draw is the tulips themselves. Fields near Mount Vernon and La Connor attract big crowds, especially on the weekends and on days with nice weather. The flowers also draw the attention of drivers, which can be hazardous.

The Washington State Patrol sent out an advisory this week to expect heavy traffic and to watch out for distracted drivers in the area.

That includes Interstate 5 from Exit 221 in Conway to Exit 230 in Burlington, Highway 20 between Burlington and Anacortes, and Memorial Highway, also known as Highway 536, between Mount Vernon and Highway 20.

Pedestrians and bicyclists also will be numerous in areas, so drivers need to be cautious.

If you’re a big flower fan, you might have someone else drive. Every year, police agencies deal with drivers who got into a crash because they were looking at the flower fields instead of the road.

“The last thing we want to have is a serious injury or fatality collision caused by visual distractions outside their vehicles,” said State Patrol Capt. Jeff Sass. “We want drivers to have a save trip to and from the festival.”

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