Best of Seafair for Kids
I’ve always loved Seafair, Seattle’s multilayered summer festival, from the time I sold Seafair pins as a 15-year-old. With seven official Seafair-sponsored events and 27 Seafair Foundation-sanctioned community events in July and August, it’s a feast for all of the senses.
The signature events are the Torchlight Parade July 26 and the Hydroplane Races and Air Show Aug. 1 to 3, but these are huge happenings with lots of crowds and traffic – here are several events better suited for children.
Milk Carton Derby
Glue together a few milk cartons and make them into a fantastical creation to float on the lake, or join with neighbors to make a bigger vessel (free to register). If you don’t have time for that, come down to Green Lake and watch nearly 100 milk carton-based craft race and compete for originality. This year, the fastest milk carton boats will race against stand-up paddle boarders. July 12, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., all around Green Lake, Seattle. www.seafair.com.
Kla Ha Ya Days in Snohomish
In addition to the usual street fair, food and parade, Kla Ha Ya Days includes a baby crawl; a chance for kids to hunt for treasures in sawdust; ice cream and pie eating contests; a frog-jumping contest (they bring the frogs; you pay $5 to race your favorite one); a watermelon seed spitting contest; bed races and an evening balloon glow. July 16-20; most events July 19, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., downtown Snohomish; balloon glow 10 p.m. in nearby Harvey Field. www.klahayadays.com.
Lanterns glow against an indigo sky as costumed dancers weave down the street to the hypnotic beat of taiko drums. Most people join in with the dancers – kimonos or other Japanese clothing optional. The festival also features Japanese food, taiko and martial arts performances, craft demonstrations and – new this year – an anime exhibition. July 19 to 20, 4 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, 3 to 9 p.m. on Sunday; 1427 S. Main St., Seattle. www.SeattleBetsuin.com.
Fleet Week and Maritime Celebration
Come to the Seattle waterfront to see a parade of ships from the US. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marines and Royal Canadian Navy with military aircraft aloft, and then come aboard for free ship tours. Parade of Ships and Flight Wednesday, July 30, 1:45 p.m.; ship tours Thursday through Saturday, July 31 to Aug. 2, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 3, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Piers 66, 69 and 90. www.seafair.com.
Best Chance to Be the Event
Although Seafair community parades require you to sign up by July 1 to be an official entrant, several welcome children and families to join in on the day of the event at no cost.
Nancy Treder and her family have been participating in the Wallingford Family Parade (July 5) since they moved to the neighborhood three years ago, and this year she’s in charge of promotion for the event. She and her children, now 6 and 9 years old, plan to dress up as farmers or gardeners, in line with this year’s theme of “Green Summer Up,” pulling a wagon with plants and some of their chickens in a cage.
Parents are encouraged to march with smaller children in local parades. Strollers, bikes, trikes and wagons can be decorated as little floats. Bring sunglasses and sunscreen and a spray bottle to mist your children. Pack water and snacks, as it might be a while between the time you turn up at the staging area and your child’s turn to march. It’s fun to bring wrapped candy or treats to give to the crowd. Many parade organizers, including Wallingford’s, ask that candy be rolled or given to children along the parade route, rather than thrown.
This year’s Kent Cornucopia Days Parade, July 13 at 2 p.m., does not have a separate kids’ component, but children are encouraged to join in at the front of the parade, meeting at Fourth Avenue and Saar Street in downtown Kent, about half an hour before the parade starts.
The West Seattle Rotary Hi-Yu Kiddies’ Parade is part of the Grand Parade on July 19 at 11 a.m. Sign up between 10 and 10:30 a.m. in front of the Holy Rosary Church, 4210 S.W. Genesee St. Kids will march in the last three blocks of the parade route and finish just ahead of the Seattle Police Motorcycle unit, leading the parade through the Alaska Street Junction.
Children are in the vanguard of the Magnolia Seafair Parade Aug. 2 at 10:30 a.m., and last year 500 children participated. If you want to be an official judged group, sign up by July 15 on the website (no entry fee). Otherwise, turn up at 10 a.m. at the staging area at 34th Avenue West and West Ray Street; restrooms and free bottled water are available.
Photos courtesy of Seafair.