By Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist
On one of the first beautiful days of spring recently in Olympia, Wash., 30,000 people gathered to watch marchers dressed as eagles, crabs, bumblebees, flamingoes, parrots, fish, peacocks, frogs, turkeys, bats, butterflies, owls, turtles, the sun, and more.
Others walked with floats they’d made, whales and fish among the favorites.
Drill teams, some dressed as their favorite species, performed. Samba bands played, and native Americans dressed in striking feathered headdresses danced.
Tall poles carried brightly colored flowers, silver, pink, and black-and-white birds, spiders, a mallard duck, fish, and jelly fish.
Brightly decorated windsocks, some with flowers, were another favorite.
Parents pulled costumed children in wagons, one "eagle" mom smiling widely as she pulled her baby birdie behind her in a "nest." Others pushed their little ones in strollers. Kids also rode tricycles, bicycles, and scooters.
It was the 17th annual Procession of the Species, and a good time was had by all. Before the parade, scores of children used free colored caulk to decorate the streets, some tracing outlines of themselves or their shadows.
A group of citizens in Olympia was looking for a way to recognize Earth Day’s 25th Anniversary and to mark action in Congress to renew the Endangered Species Act in 1995. They created a community celebration now attended by thousands of people every year.
More than 100 volunteers take on the different jobs needed to make the procession happen.
A studio opens before the parade where people can make huge puppets, floats, masks, headdresses, and banners. Recycled materials and arts and crafts supplies are available. Workshops are offered.
The Procession of the Species has grown from 800 people taking part in the parade to more than 3,000.
See The Olympian’s "Warmest Day of 2011 Good Time for Procession of the Species" for more information on this year’s parade.
For details on the event, see Procession of the Species Celebration.
If you'd like to plan a Procession of the Species celebration in your community, see Start a New Procession.