Deception Pass State Park wants stage to go with new amphitheater

Oak Harbor teenager Nathan Wagner rebuilt the amphitheater at Deception Pass as an Eagle Scout Project. - Courtesy photo
Oak Harbor teenager Nathan Wagner rebuilt the amphitheater at Deception Pass as an Eagle Scout Project.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Deception Pass State Park rangers are looking for local groups and individuals interested in helping to build a stage to go with its rebuilt amphitheater.

If possible, they hope to get the project done in time for the summertime celebration of the park system’s centennial.

Park Manager Jack Hartt said he was ecstatic by the work done last year by Oak Harbor Boy Scout Nathan Wagner. Wagner and the volunteers he enlisted tore out the aging amphitheater near Cranberry Lake and rebuilt it from scratch last spring.

“The new design doubles the capacity, moves people closer and is more user-friendly,” he said. “It was really quite an upgrade.”

Wagner, a junior at Oak Harbor High School, explained that he took on the project as an Eagle Scout Project. He’s a member of Troop 4063, sponsored by Oak Harbor LDS 2nd Ward Church.

Wagner said he approached the park management about doing a project and was given a list of options. He chose the biggest challenge.

“I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but I didn’t realize how much,” he said.

The first step, Wagner said, was to come up with a design for the rows of seating for about 250 people. He went to a family friend, former city engineer Eric Johnston, and asked for his help. Together they came up with the terraced design.

Next, he approached a couple of businesses for help with the materials. Frontier Industries of Oak Harbor donated thousands of dollars worth of lumber while Fastenal donated nuts and bolts.

Hartt said the Deception Pass Foundation also contributed to the project.

Wagner pulled together volunteers from several Boy Scout groups, his church and the high school. They measured the site, tore out the old amphitheater with a backhoe and then got out the auger. They drilled 128 holes in the soil, put the posts in the holes and secured them with concrete. The bench tops were attached to the sawed-off posts.

In all, it took 738 man-hours to complete the project. Wagner spent six months on the entire project, but the actual construction took just a month.

“It went surprisingly fast,” Hartt said. “They were done just in time for the Memorial Day weekend.”

Hartt said the amphitheater, which has a view of the famous bridge, is a busy place in the summer. The evening interpretive programs are held there, as is the Arts in the Park musical program and various presentations.

On Aug. 3, the governor and other bigwigs from across the state are scheduled to visit the amphitheater for a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the state’s park system. While Deception Pass State Park is just 88 years old, it’s the most popular in the state system and will be the hub for the centennial celebrations.

While the new benches will be perfect for the ceremony, the amphitheater needs a stage. Hartt said he’s hoping to find another go-getter like Wagner — or a group of go-getters — willing to take on the project from start to finish.

Anyone interested can contact him at 360-675-3767, extension 26.


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