Today is Opening Day! With a noon cannon blast and the raising of the Montlake Bridge, boating season in Seattle will officially begin.
While Seattle has a long history of special maritime celebrations, it is believed that the first Opening Day Parade took place May 3, 1913. Seven years later, the parade and regatta moved to their present location at the Montlake Cut when their sponsor, The Seattle Yacht Club, moved to Portage Bay. It has been an annual event ever since, even during World War II.
The boating parade attracts thousands of visitors. While exact attendance numbers are unknown, it is estimated that as few as 4,500 and as many as 250,000 have lined the shores to eat picnics and watch the passing boats.
Originally, anybody who wanted to participate in the parade was welcome, but when numbers of entrants reached 1,000 in the mid-1970s, the Coast Guard intervened. Ever since, participants have been required to register, keeping the number of boats in the parade closer to 200.
In 1959, the theme “Hell’s a Poppin'” was selected, and the parade has been themed ever since. Other themes have included “The Ancient Mariner” and “Out of This World,” as well as this year’s theme, “Emerald City Aahs.”
Since 1986, rowing crews from the nearby University of Washington have participated in Windemere Cup races prior to the parade.
Please enjoy this 1960s-era postcard, and get out there to see those boats!