The street sweepers that traditionally start Oak Harbor’s Holland Happening Grand Parade line up for the 2017 parade. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group

The street sweepers that traditionally start Oak Harbor’s Holland Happening Grand Parade line up for the 2017 parade. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group

Holland Happening going global

Chamber celebrates many cultures of Oak Harbor

Longtime volunteer and go-to gal Sande Mulkey will lead Saturday’s Holland Happening parade as grand marshal.

She was chosen by the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the variety of activities taking place April 26-29.

In its 49th year, Holland Happening is a four-day celebration of Oak Harbor’s Dutch roots that spread back to the late 1800s when many families from Holland emigrated to Whidbey and the Skagit Valley.

However, the name of this year’s event has changed to “Holland Happening, an International Festival.”

Booths, food and exhibitions “will highlight the multi-cultural nature of Whidbey Island’s largest city,” according to the Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism website.

Along the Pioneer Way street fair, vendors representing different cultures will feature food and other fare.

“We ran out of city blocks as so many people wanted to participate,” said Christine Cribb, Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce executive director.

Irish, Filipino-American, Norwegian, Dutch and the Swinomish Tribe are among the groups, Cribb said.

“We know that our community has many cultures,” added Autumn Parks, the chamber’s graphic designer, “and we wanted to show the other kinds of heritage that have been growing over the years. But we’ll still stick with our traditions, also.”

The long-time Friday evening favorite called an authentic Dutch dinner isn’t scheduled this year.

Festivities get underway at 4 p.m. Thursday with opening of the Davis Amusement Carnival.

The carnival ends Sunday afternoon after the 2 p.m. popular Klompen Canal Races.

The Eagle Run, sponsored by Oak Harbor Christian School kicks off at 8 a.m. Saturday.

The parade begins at 11 a.m. followed by Rotary Walk of Honor Car Show at 1 p.m.

Additionally, a street fair and art walk rolls out on Pioneer Way in historic downtown Saturday and Sunday.

The street is blocked so the public can check out dozens of art, food vendors and music.

All day passes for the carnival, which includes rides and games, can be purchased in advance at the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce for $22 each. During the carnival, an all-day pass costs $30.

The celebration will go on this year without its matriarch, Janette van Slageren Ellis, who died Aug. 31.

Known by most as Jan Ellis, she joined the Holland Happening Committee in 1970 and served as its chairwoman for 23 years.

Ellis was honored twice as Grand Marshal of the parade.

During the 2017 Holland Happening parade, Sande Mulkey (in red jacket) accompanies Jacob Hutson, left, and the traditional Dutch tulip cart. Mulkey is this year’s Grand Marshal for Saturday’s parade that begins at 11 a.m.

During the 2017 Holland Happening parade, Sande Mulkey (in red jacket) accompanies Jacob Hutson, left, and the traditional Dutch tulip cart. Mulkey is this year’s Grand Marshal for Saturday’s parade that begins at 11 a.m.

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