There, in the midst of beautiful scenery on a sunny day, was some 200 yards of rock, much of it sandstone, defaced by graffiti that was vulgar in places.
One beach visitor reported seeing the damage during a Mother’s Day walk.
“It’s time for our revolution,” read one underneath a swastika and “SS.” Another simply read “no crime” while other sections had spray-painted profanities, penises and the phrase “stay high cuz pigs can’t fly.”
Park visitors were sickened and angered by what they described as ugliness in a pristine environment, located just south of Bellingham. A park official said the extent of the graffiti was extraordinary, and that it was likely done in the middle of the night.
Who was responsible?
That’s still a mystery a year later.
“We have yet to nail down exactly which group or groups of people did this. It is an open investigation at this point,” said Amber Forest, park manager for Larrabee State Park.
But the story didn’t end with angry hand-wringing.
Park officials asked for volunteers to help remove the graffiti, some of which was gang-related.
The community responded and about 60 volunteers showed up to help scrub away the damage on a sunny June day.
No graffiti has been sprayed at Clayton lately, Forest said, but the park still get “small marker tags, mainly at the day-use area near the band shell.”
About a year later, Forest still remembers the community’s efforts.
“I would love to say a big ‘thank you’ again and to state that a year later the efforts made by the community at Clayton made a huge impact on deterring this behavior,” Forest said.
“It also brought attention to the issue in the community, which spurred more volunteer groups to come to Larrabee in subsequent months to remove graffiti, specifically off rocks at the boat launch and main day-use areas of the park,” she added.
The state bought the 98-acre Clayton Beach site from private owners and added it to the park around 1989.
It’s a popular spot at the southern end of the park but can’t be reached without crossing BNSF railroad tracks. State parks and railroad officials have for years told people they can’t cross the tracks to reach the state-owned property at the edge of the water, but to little avail.
Larrabee State Park gets nearly 750,000 visitors and 35,000 campers a year.