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You thought it was gone. But these Marines hope to save a beloved Bellingham parade.

Video: Bellingham FirePipes perform at Blossomtime Parade

Bellingham FirePipes perform at the Blossomtime Parade in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday, May 23, 2015.
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Bellingham FirePipes perform at the Blossomtime Parade in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday, May 23, 2015.

A Marine Corps league based in Bellingham is raising $30,000 to save a parade that began in 1920 and has helped kick off Ski to Sea weekend in recent decades.

Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce announced earlier this year that it would no longer put on the Blossomtime Parade in May, citing a lack of support, difficulty in attracting parade entries and a desire to refocus the chamber’s resources and staff.

The parade traces its heritage to the first Tulip Time Festival Parade in 1920. That event faded after 1929, due to the depression, World War I and the flight of the tulip-growing industry to Skagit County.

But the parade was reborn after World War II as the Blossomtime Festival, which eventually faded in 1973, just as the Ski to Sea Race emerged as the county’s signature sporting event. The parade rolled on, with a new focal point and a new name.

When the chamber said it would no longer organize the parade, it said then that it hoped another group would take over.

Last Wednesday, the Whatcom County Marine Corps League Detachment 1335 voted to do just that as its members committed to raising the money and keeping the event going as the Bellingham Memorial Day Parade – “celebrating our communities, remembering our heroes” according to a Facebook page on the effort.

Other veterans groups also are part of the effort, said Bellingham resident David “Mac” McMaster, a Vietnam War combat veteran who was grand marshal of the parade in 2016.

McMaster said there has been a groundswell of support, including from a few businesses that already have pledged some financial support.

“This is Bellingham’s parade. This is the community’s parade. People love it and they want to keep it,” McMaster said.

The idea also is to refocus the parade on Memorial Day, he added.

Parade supporters have been busy, including with getting the needed permits for the parade.

“It’s like standing in the middle of I-5 with my arms outstretched,” McMaster said. “We need to catch the next semi. That’s how fast it’s coming.”

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea

How to help

Learn more about efforts to revive the Blossomtime Parade and keep it going as the Bellingham Memorial Day Parade by emailing Phillip Carroll at phillipcarroll71@gmail.com.

Whatcom County Marine Corps League Detachment 1335 is leading the effort and raising $30,000 to revive the parade.

Donate by making checks payable to Bellingham Memorial Day Parade. Mail them to Marine Corps League Det. 1335 at 1688 W. Bakerview Road, Bellingham, Wash. 98226.

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