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Rude reception at Choochokam
Last weekend the town of Langley transformed itself into a Mecca for music and art lovers, with something for everyone from the art aficionado to those who can’t even spell art, much less tackle “Choochokum.” It was with anticipation that I made the drive down Island Friday night to enjoy the kickoff concert at WICA. I went again on Saturday to catch more bands and enjoy the Island weather.
However, a cloud quickly settled over my day as I watched one of the shows. The musician, engaging the audience in some friendly banter, announced that she was a native of the Island, and had grown up in Oak Harbor. To my dismay and severe annoyance, she was booed, loudly and vehemently.
I couldn’t believe that anyone would be shown such disrespect, especially in such a friendly place as Langley. Unfortunately, my experience did not stop there. In between concerts, I visited some of the little shops to pick up souvenirs and discover what treasures they held. One shopkeeper greeted us with a smile and asked us if we were visiting Langley. When we said we had come from up island, she literally turned her back on us and walked away. Needless to say I was appalled, and left the shop quickly.
While Whidbey Island has some obvious variations from north to south, I have always considered all of us as members of the same group. I’ve lived here for all of my 26 years, and am proud to call myself an Islander. It pains me to know that the gratitude I receive for supporting the efforts of the entire island and spending my dollars in Langley was obvious hatred and exclusion. I thought of asking where the “North Whidbey Only” drinking fountain was located.
Part of my job is to promote island activities (including Choochokum) and to direct tourists to the various sites and activities offered on our island. Quite often this means sending them south, and I do, gladly. I’m beginning to reconsider this though. Is every visitor treated as I was? As a town that is largely dependent on tourism dollars, do they really want the reputation of being inhospitable for no apparent reason?
I hope not, and I hope the town of Langley will make an effort to change my mind. I would encourage Oak Harbor residents to ask themselves these questions before they make that day trip down Island.