Families

Procession of the Species celebrates nature

iMa banasky of Bellingham spreads her butterfly wings at the Procession of the Species Parade in 2013.
iMa banasky of Bellingham spreads her butterfly wings at the Procession of the Species Parade in 2013. The Bellingham Herald

Procession of the Species is an annual spectacle of spring, a parade where participants dress in wild costumes representing animals of all sorts — from sea creatures such as octopuses and anemones to insects, sloths and salmon.

It’s a spirited and sometimes outlandish celebration of the environment and community, following three rules: no words written or spoken, no live animals and no motorized vehicles.

“People should definitely bring instruments to bang on,” said parade panel member Carol Oberton, who works at Mindport Exhibits in Bellingham. “It’s especially fun when families get together to form a ‘habitat,’ ” Oberton said.

Groups have dressed as jellyfish and other creatures, she said, and “there were beavers with teeth and the tail. People get creative.”

Many cities around the country have similar events, based on one in Olympia that started in 1995 to mark the 25th anniversary of Earth Day.

Often, workshops are scheduled to help participants create masks and costumes. As the event draws closer, check online at bpots.org or on Facebook at Bellingham Procession of the Species. For costume ideas and inspiration, go to the websites or search “Bellingham Procession of the Species” on You Tube for video of previous parades.

Parade spectators are encouraged to dress in costume, even if they don’t plan to march in the parade, Overton said, noting that it adds to the festive atmosphere.

This year’s parade, the 13th annual, is at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 7. Participants should assemble at 3:30 p.m. behind the Bellingham Public Library, 210 Central Ave. Parade route goes south on Commercial Street to Holly Street, turning west to Maritime Heritage Park, where a festival will follow.

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