Maybe Whatcom County could use a few more Subarus after all.
The official count came in at 522 cars, said Tanya McKinney, marketing and digital media coordinator for Dewey Griffin Subaru, which spearheaded the event alongside the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce and Birch Bay Waterslides. Organizers used one of the water park’s parking lots, along with an adjacent field, to stage the cars.
McKinney said the idea to make the attempt came after hearing about the record set with nearly 400 cars in Illinois in 2013. The latest record was set in Moscow, Russia, with 549 cars.
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“This is the Pacific Northwest — we could do this here,” McKinney said, recalling when the idea came to her.
In the end, it wasn’t enough.
McKinney said many of those who registered didn’t show up, despite having paid the registration fee of $10 plus $5 for each passenger. The costs helped pay for permitting and security, said Allen Meyer, general manager of Dewey Griffin Subaru.
Others, McKinney said, simply showed up too late.
But by most accounts, the attempt had a good showing, with a variety of Subarus from Whatcom County and beyond. McKinney said she heard about registrants from Oregon and California. The event also drew drivers from across the border.
I’m an automotive enthusiast and I’ve been around Chevies, I’ve been around Nissans and all that stuff. Compared to any other brand, this is it. This is the most active, enthusiastic group I’ve ever been part of.
Subaru owner Ryan Craiger
Among the most bizarre vehicles was a 1991 Sambar, owned by Moneca Kolvyn of Delta, B.C. The yellow, right hand-driven vehicle resembled a cross between a van and pickup truck. Kolvyn said she imported it from Japan in a container of other vehicles in 2006.
Kolvyn said she found out about the event on Saturday, June 4, and decided to come back and potentially break the record.
“We thought it was sort of a fun thing to do,” she said.
Parked a few rows back was a 1983 Brat, a car whose body is styled similar to a Chevrolet El Camino, owned by Todd Martin, from Conway. The car, still outfitted with its 1983 tabs, was coated in an Army-green paint job. An assortment of lights took up much of the roof and front bumper and clear domes covered the car’s two sunroofs.
“My nephew told me years ago that someday this Brat would be world-famous, and that was 15 years ago,” Martin said. “If I’m going to take a chance to show it to the world, today’s the day to do it.”
Other entries were far more ubiquitous, like the forest-green 1999 Forester Lisa Weed drove from Bellingham. The car came complete with its “grocery-store dings,” Weed said with affection.
“We’re like the smartest people on the road,” she added.
Other cars, like Ryan Craiger’s white 2002 WRX, were prized possessions, tricked out and polished for the event. Craiger, who made the trip from Auburn with his sister, Niki, said he couldn’t explain the bond Subaru owners share with one another over their common love for the brand.
“I’m an automotive enthusiast and I’ve been around Chevys, I’ve been around Nissans and all that stuff,” he said. “Compared to any other brand, this is it. This is the most active, enthusiastic group I’ve ever been part of.”
Cars began rolling out of the lot just after noon, heading west on Birch Bay-Lynden Road, then south on Harborview Road. The string of cars followed the coastline about three miles to Birch Bay State Park. Drivers were then free to go about their day or return to the water park for prize drawings, live music and other festivities.
Organizers didn’t let the shortage of cars rain on what had otherwise been a sunny day.
“It’s obviously a disappointment but I think everyone really had a good time and a good impression of the event,” McKinney said. “Anytime you have that many friends and family come together, it’s always a celebration.”