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Tulalip Tribes kick off summer with annual parade
TULALIP The Tulalips kicked off summer in a big way last weekend: celebrations loud and wacky teamed with ceremonies solemn and spiritual during the annual Tribal festivities on Tulalip Bay.
The small-town parade was the start of the Strawberry Festivals final week, but this was celebrating on the retail level where everybody knows everybody. Community members lined Totem Beach Road to watch their neighbors from far and wide, both tribal and non-tribal, pass by in the folksy promenade.
Several other Washington state tribes sent delegations, including the Makah, Swinomish and Muckelshoot floats, and Tulalip Tribal Council members saluted their peers from golf carts as they threw candy to the children lining the street.
Mel Sheldon Jr. emceed the event with his folksy humor, this time as Tribal Chairman in funny hat. The parade got off to a premature start when the Tulalip Bay Fire Department whizzed by the tribal headquarters building, but it turned out the firefighters were on their way to an actual call.
If the fire engines go that quick we may have a three-and-a-half minute parade, Sheldon laughed.
The former Vietnam vet saluted one of his Army pals he served with before citing the dynamic duo of Bill McLean and his son, both veterans and both Marines. The younger has two tours of duty in the Iraq theater, Sheldon noted. They were followed by a color guard from the U.S. Navy base in Everett.
Just about every part of the Tribal government had a float in the parade, including the Bernie Kai Kai Gobin fish hatchery, the Tulalip Police Department and many others. Mathew Fryberg and Natosha Gobin were passing out videotapes of the Tribal history to keep the Tulalip culture alive as they walked the parade route wearing canoe costumes.
The Marysville Strawberry Festival aeronautical themed float made an appearance and a very tight turn at the end of the route. The Marysville Junior High School marching band trumpeted through, as did representatives from the China Town/International District in Seattle. The Seattle Seafair Pirates startled everybody with the booming cannon firing from the good ship Moby Duck while pirates raided the sidewalks where children were scooping up candy by the handful. The pirate leader Captain Kidd was especially happy to be at the festival, as he has both SKallum and Apache blood.
Bob Malone and Kim Hilgenberger are residents of the reservation and live nearby the parade route. They were getting chuckles from the their friends and neighbors passing by.
I like it better than the Renton parade, Hilgenberger said.
This year the parade and salmon ceremony were held a week after other Strawberry Festival events, giving a breather to spectators and participants alike. George Jones is a Tulalip who works at the fish hatchery and he rode on the top of a hatchery truck. Later he used a bullhorn to rib Tribal police officer Jeff Jira, who was warbling him with the siren of his police car.
Ive got a bigger one, Jones joked with his bullhorn as he kept his rat terrier Amber on a leash. It was fun.