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Annual Dutch event draws thousands to Oak Harbor | Slideshow
The joy of participating in the Holland Happening grand parade was clear from the smile on Sophia Bahner’s face.
Bahner, 5, was one of 30 members with Woodward’s Taekwondo Academy in Oak Harbor demonstrating their moves along streets lined with parade watchers in downtown Oak Harbor Saturday.
It was time for crescent kicks and hammer fists.
“She was super excited to be able to do some of her kicks in front of the mayor,” said her mother, April Banner.
The 45th Holland Happening was highlighted by sunshine during the parade and a first-day crowd estimated at 3,000 people.
Wind gusts kept down Sunday’s attendance and played havoc with vendors’ tents.
The parade lasted more than an hour with 82 entries traveling along Bayshore Drive, City Beach Street and on to Pioneer Way. Dignitaries such as Scott Dudley, Oak Harbor’s mayor, and Capt. Mike Nortier, commanding officer of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, walked the stretch behind the street sweepers and a town crier who’ve long been part of the celebration of the city’s Dutch heritage.
The parade featured school bands from Oak Harbor and Lynden, the howls of sirens and a coonhound, the vibrant dress of Oak Harbor’s Filipino-American Association members and colorful flags of the Navy color guard and Broad View Elementary School flag team.
And there was no mistaking the mock cannon blasts from the pirate ship float of the Oak Harbor Buccaneers, the philanthropic wing of the Oak Harbor Yacht Club.
Bob Mitchell, captain of the Buccaneers in 2014, was decked out in red pirate attire and handed out necklaces to parade watchers.
A bus driver for the Oak Harbor School District, he surprised some of the children in attendance.
“They get a kick out of it,” Mitchell said.
“At first, I don’t think they believe it. They look at me and say, ‘Is that really Mr. Bob?’”