‘Tulalip Days’ kick off first year with parade, sports, activities

TULALIP — It was a new event tied into old traditions, and aside from a brief bit of rain, the first-ever “Tulalip Days” Sept. 5-7 enjoyed pleasant weather and sizable crowds, according to event organizers.

Tulalip Tribes Public Affairs Coordinator Mytyl Hernandez also served as the event coordinator for the Tulalip Days and she recalled how the “first annual” event had its roots in long-standing tribal customs.

“Maybe longer than 10 years ago we stopped having our Labor Day pow wow,” Hernandez said at the Tulalip Tribal Center Sept. 5. “My grandfather remembers events always going on down here Labor Day weekend, so we were just trying to get back to that. We moved the parade to Labor Day weekend and decided to add a few other activities to make it more of a festival.”

Tulalip Tribes Community Relations Coordinator Frieda Williams Jr. noted that the parade had previously been held for eight years in conjunction with the Tribes’ salmon ceremony in June, but she explained that the Tribes wanted to return the salmon ceremony to a more intimate cultural gathering.

As for the Sept. 5 parade, Williams was surprised and gratified by the level of turnout it received, both from parade participants and onlookers. While groups such as the Seafair Pirates and the Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce were unable to attend due to prior commitments, close to 40 groups still showed up, “despite people going out of town and already having their dates set for the vacation.”

Floats and marchers included the Marysville and Tulalip police departments and fire districts, Marysville Strawberry Festival Royalty, the Marysville School District, the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Marching Band, the Marysville Historical Society, the Lushootseed Department, the Tulalip Fish Hatchery, the Tulalip health and dental clinics, the Tulalip Resort Casino, and various Tulalip veterans and elders.

Williams expressed pride over welcoming the city of Mukilteo to their first Tulalip parade, and reported that Don Hatch Jr. had helped to recruit the Quileute Royalty for this year for the Tulalip parade by giving them a wolf mask. They were joined in the parade by this year’s Makah Royalty and the Swinomish Canoe Family, as well as the Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the David Lung Lion Dance group.

The parade was followed by softball and youth three-on-three basketball tournaments, as well as a clambake that was free to all. Tulalip Youth Services Specialist Sabrina Moses organized the third annual “Battle by the Bay” co-ed softball tournament, which coincided for the first time this year with the Tulalip Days.

“We have this tournament to get all the tribes to come together and have a good time,” Moses said. “We have tribes from Yakama, La Push, Muckleshoot, Tulalip and Swinomish. In the past, we’ve had them from as far as Lapwai and Warm Springs, but this year, it’s a little smaller.”

This year’s tournament included nine teams. Moses estimated that the players ranged in age from 15-40, with “even a few 50-year-olds.” She’s pledged to continue the tournament on an annual basis, and invited prospective players and teams to contact her.

“Everybody just comes together as a family here,” Moses said. “That’s what it’s about.”

While the sun brightened and the skies cleared in time for the parade, the morning of Sept. 5 began by “pouring cats and dogs,” in Williams’ words, so much that a planned canoe-pulling event, which would have allowed participants to paddle around the bay, was cancelled due to heavy rain and choppy waters

“Thank the Lord it turned out to be a beautiful day, though,” Williams said. “Every year we’ve had great weather, thank God.”

Aside from worrying about the brief poor weather Sept. 5, Hernandez’s biggest concerns during the first day of Tulalip Days revolved around making sure the event’s vendors and attendees were happy.

“It’s very community focused,” Hernandez said. “We wanted to be able to get our whole community together for this celebration. The community has been great in coming together and being excited about this event and just participating. The most rewarding thing for me is to know that the vendors are doing well, that the community is having a good time, that my family is having a good time, and that friends and other communities are coming in and enjoying the festivities. It’s just a really good event to have quality time with the family.”

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