April showers don’t dampen Holland Happening spirit

Children waved, marching bands played and the smell of kettle corn was in the air at the annual Holland Happening Grand Parade on Saturday.

Attendees braved light showers and lined downtown Oak Harbor with umbrellas and folding chairs to watch the hour-long parade.

The parade opened with a show of Oak Harbor’s emergency vehicles, flashing their lights and tooting horns.

Next came the uniformed Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 7392.

The parade included many local organizations. This year’s parade had 115 entries and 98 vendors.

The sports groups included Whidbey Island Roller Girls, Sabertooth Shooting Squad, Jiu-Jitsu, Rise Academy of Arts and North Whidbey Little League.

The Boys and Girls Club of Oak Harbor also made an appearance.

The political banners included “Elect Janet St. Clair for Island County Commissioner,” and “Scott McMullen for State Representative.”

The Oak Harbor Yacht Club Buccaneers had a pirate ship display float that released clouds of fog, complete with a skeleton hanging from the mast.

Whidbey Island Rocks, handed out their hand-painted rocks to the crowd.

Civility First, a group that aims to keep political discussions respectful, carried a banner with a quote from Abraham Lincoln.

“We must not be enemies, though passion may have strained; it must not break our bonds of affection,” it read.

Sande Mulkey rode through as grand marshal of the parade. Mayor Bob Severns, Councilman Jim Woessner and County Commissioners Rick Hannold and Jill Johnson also were in the parade.

The parade was monitored by Seafair Marshalls from Seattle. Parade Marshall Lee Burns noted that Oak Harbor rules say that throwing candy is prohibited in order to prevent children running out into the parade.

Other than that, the parade was going smoothly, he said.

Parade attendees had positive things to say after it finished and several people said the high school bands were their favorite participants.

“It was really good,” said Bing Mendoza. “Lots of candy and the bands were awesome.”

One student said wearing the uniforms was a highlight of his time in the parade.

“It was super fun. Fun to wear the uniforms,” Aiden McCarthy, 16, from the Oak Harbor High School Marching Band said. “We looked pretty professional.”

Christine Cribb , executive director of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, said a lot of work goes into running the four-day Holland Happening festival, a celebration of Oak Harbor’s Dutch heritage and multiculturalism that’s now in its 49th year.

It takes about a staff of five, 250 volunteers and about 20 sponsors to make the festival happen, she said.

“I love the responsibility of carrying on the incredibly cool tradition for our community,” Cribb said.

“It’s really a labor of love for the community and we love doing it.”