Patriotic crowd throws 'tea party' in Oak Harbor
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
April 17, 2009 · Updated 3:28 PM
More than 100 red-white-and-blue clad, flag-waving protesters descended upon the center of Oak Harbor Wednesday afternoon.
They were among the countless people participating in a tea party to protest the current state of government.
Whidbey Island residents were crowding the sidewalks around the four corners at the intersection of Highway 20 and Whidbey Avenue in Oak Harbor. They waved American flags and signs blasting what they describe as the "tax-and-spend culture" taking place at all levels of government. During the two-hour protest, numerous motorists were honking their horns supportively as they were driving by as participants cheered. Eventually a chant of "USA" erupted from the throng.
Oak Harbor resident Dori Cart said the tea party isn't about Democrats or Republicans, but how money is spent.
"We want everybody in Washington to stop spending money on junk," Cart said.
Greenbank resident Debbie Cunningham said she participated in the protest because of her grandchildren, who she wants to grow up in a secure economy.
That sentiment was widespread. "I hope to help wake people up," said Terresa Hobbs, who helped organize the party in Oak Harbor. She was surprised at the number of people who showed up. She said there were many more than the ones who sent RSVPs that they would attend.
She said that she felt embarrassed that the country is creating a bill that will be paid by her "great-great-great-great-grandchildren."
"We're taxing our children's future, we're mortgaging our children's future," Cunningham said while waving a "Taxed Enough Already" poster. "I'm a grandma and we can't be doing this to our kids."
Freeland resident Rod Morant attended because of what he sees is reckless spending at all government levels. He said he endured a 30 percent increase in property taxes even after he appealed his tax bill. He was waving a large American flag, while his wife, Carol, was holding an enormous tea bag on a pole.
Oak Harbor's party was only one of several that took place on tax day, April 15. Other tea parties took place in Everett, Mount Vernon, Olympia, Tacoma and Seattle, as well as elsewhere around the county.
In fact, attending just one tea party wasn't enough for some people.
Greenbank resident Larry Strunk said he attended one in Mount Vernon and decided to participate in Oak Harbor on the way home.
"We thought we would do this to express our displeasure," Strunk said.
Oak Harbor resident Pam Tomlinson was on the corner in front of Jack and the Box. She was traveling to Bellingham to participated in that city's tea party.
"I believe we're on the road to socialism and I'm totally against that," Tomlinson said.
Hobbs said similar tea parties occurred from coast to coast and Alaska and Hawaii.
She said she hopes to organize a larger rally at a later date, but she didn't know when that would happen yet.Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.