State Parks celebrate 100 years

At the edge of Cranberry Lake in Deception Pass State Park Saturday, 7-year-old Thatcher Tennal of Oak Harbor was on a quest for the perfect stick to fish lily pads out of the lake.

On West Beach just a short distance away, Petra Look and her 3-year-old daughter Violet of Houston, Texas, fished and threw rocks into Puget Sound.

Meanwhile, Shaylene Lujah and her husband, Jay, of Oak Harbor, hiked up and around the trails surrounding the historic Deception Pass bridge with their expansive views and scenic terrain.

Shaylene Lujah, an Oak Harbor High School graduate, said she has been coming to Deception Pass State Park since she was very young.

“We love coming out whenever it’s nice to go hiking,” Lujah said.

Saturday marked the celebration of Washington State Parks 100th anniversary.

The special event, held along the banks of Cranberry Lake, included live music, food vendors, informational booths and a ceremony hosted by local and state officials.

State Parks Commissioner Mark Brown, the keynote speaker, said that, having visiting more than 70 of Washington’s 117 developed parks, a common denominator at every location are the smiles on each person’s face.

“Washington State Parks is one of the oldest and more developed systems in the country,” Brown said. “We should celebrate that everyday, but especially today.”

Brown said Washington state should be particularly proud of Deception Pass State Park, which attracts about 1.75 million visitors per year, according to the most recent data.

Deception Pass State Park is second only to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station for economic impact on North Whidbey Island.

Members of the Samish Indian Nation closed the ceremony with a blessing for the park lands, part of which was once home to the tribe.

During the celebration, a 30-foot-long expanse along West Beach was cordoned off with yellow tape to protect a seal pup that was sunning itself near the surf. A state parks volunteer was seated at the edge of the tape to ensure the seal pup was left undisturbed by visitors, who gathered to get a look at the baby seal.

Other planned events included a geocache challenge, ranger tours and model sailboat races.

Thatcher Tennal’s parents, Ray and Elizabeth Tennal, said it was the “promise of kid events” that brought them to the park Saturday. They have visited the park since moving to Oak Harbor in 1998.

“We come at least once a month,” Elizabeth Tennal said. “We explore trails, take great pictures. And it’s great just to get the kids outdoors.”

Jen Marcello, a Seattle resident who was visiting the park for the first time with her daughter, said their visit “just happened” to coincide with the celebration.

“It’s kinda cool,” said Marcello after closely inspecting the skulls of area wildlife that were on display, including 5-foot-long orca skull. “This is gorgeous. We will definitely come back.”

For more information on Washington State Parks, visit


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