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A colorful and traditional rite of spring, the only one of its kind in the world, brings many people to Seattle's inland waterways this May 3rd as boaters celebrate Opening Day of the boating season. Spectators crowd the shorelines of Seattle's Portage Bay and Montlake Cut as boats, many of them decorated, parade past judges and spectators watching aboard boats anchored along the parade route.
There are small boats, motorboats, rowing and paddleboats, sailboats, antique boats and mega-yachts in the annual Opening Day parade sponsored by the Seattle Yacht Club. There are racing shells from top-caliber collegiate and international rowing teams, and this year's races will feature teams from around the country and the world competing in the 2014 Windermere Cup Crew Races.
Seattle Fire Department boats move by in a cloud of spray, as well as sailboats with spinnakers flying. Two small flotillas of yachts carrying musicians from the University of Washington Husky and Washington State University Cougar Marching Bands set the musical tempo for the day.
Participating yachts will decorate to this year's theme: "Toys Ahoy."
Opening Day in Seattle is a family affair; families decorate their boats for the festivities and parades, families spread blankets on the shoreline and spend hours watching and picnicking.
The boating season never officially ends in the Puget Sound area. There may be less extended cruising during the blustery, wet days of winter, but the faithful keep sailing. Opening Day, however, kicks off the happy spring and summer days of boating for many avid boaters in this area.
Sponsored annually by the Seattle Yacht Club, Opening Day can trace its roots to a Fourth of July celebration on Seattle's waterfront in 1895. In 1920, shortly after the Lake Washington Ship Canal was completed, linking Seattle's inland lakes with Puget Sound, the celebration moved to the fresh waters of the ship canal, Portage Bay and the Montlake Cut.
Opening Day offers some outstanding photo and story opportunities. You'll not find anything like it in the United States or, to our knowledge, anywhere in the world. The only event comparable is an annual parade of commercial vessels in Venice, Italy.
There are lots of story possibilities in the weeks prior to Opening Day as families and friends and businesses decorate yachts, and racing crews from around the world practice for Saturday's regatta.
We'd be pleased to help you cover Opening Day events in Seattle. We think it's a great time and a good story.
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2014 Opening Day Press Chair
Seattle Yacht Club
Seattle Yacht Club's Opening Day Committee welcomes coverage of Opening Day events.
Please read about "Press Opportunities" and check "Press Releases" for more Opening Day information.
For general questions about Opening Day, please contact the Seattle Yacht Club directly at 206.325.1000.
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View the crew races and parade on the SYC Press Boat
Departing the dock immediately after the 9:00 a.m. commissioning ceremony on the Seattle Yacht Club lawn, head out on a beautiful volunteer yacht with front row seats to the Windermere Cup Crew Races and the 2014 "Toys Ahoy" Boat Parade. Yacht returns to SYC at the end of the parade, approximately 2:30 p.m. A day on the Press Boat offers front row (boat) seat photo opportunities as well as information about parade entries. By reservation only.
Parade Director's View
The Seattle Yacht Club boat, "Portage Bay", provides an excellent viewing platform for the press as it will be anchored near the finish line of the crew races and the starting area of the boat parade. The Portage Bay is the nerve center for the Parade Director, Marshal Boats, USCG and Harbor Patrol. It gives a unique, inside look into how the parade is actually put together and executed.
Cruise the Log Boom
You and your crew can be escorted on a volunteer yacht to cruise Portage Bay, through the Montlake Cut, and to the log boom to photograph and film enthusiastic Opening Day spectators. This is a popular cruise for some of our local weather reporters, and spots fill up quickly. By reservation only.
Broadcast or Tape from the SYC Docks, Lawn or Parking Lot
Decorated boats from visiting yacht clubs make the Seattle Yacht Club a picturesque backdrop for taping or broadcasting information about Opening Day and the crew races. The Seattle Yacht Club is private property and all non-members, including press, must be escorted on the property at all times.
Interview the Admiral, Vice Admiral or Admiralette
This year's Trio of Opening Day officers is available for press conferences, TV, print and radio interviews. Please contact the club to get on one of their schedules. A joint press conference with Windermere Foundation, Washington Huskies Athletics and the Trio is generally held on the Wednesday before Opening Day.
Broadcast or Tape from an SYC Boat
Member volunteers and their boats are often available for interviews and broadcast/taping locations. The Seattle Yacht Club is private property and all non-members, including press, must be escorted on the property at all times.
Photographs or Taping in the SYC Clubhouse
The Seattle Yacht Club is private property and all non-members, including press, must be escorted on the property at all times. Generally press photographs or taping is not permitted inside the club. With advance notice, however, and depending on the time, special arrangements may be made.
Feature a Parade Class in Your Publication
Parade entrants are generally eager to talk about their parade entries in the Opening Day boat parade. Some past successful features have been done on entries with historical significance, unusual designs or interesting ownership histories.
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As you can imagine, parking at the Seattle Yacht Club and on neighboring streets can be quite difficult during Opening Day activities on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. To ensure you get the press parking priority you deserve in exchange for covering our event, contact the club at 206.325.1000.
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February 6, 2014
2014 Opening Day Theme is “Toys Ahoy!”
Seattle Yacht Club has chosen “Toys Ahoy!” for the theme of the 2014 Opening Day boating festivities on May 3, 2014. The Seattle community will see boats in full dress, as well as decorated and playful toys as they parade through the Montlake Cut.
This 94th annual, world-renown boating event is under the leadership of Admiral Michael Carrosino, Admiralette Shawn Otorowski, and Vice Admiral Ted Shultz. “Toys Ahoy!” is a theme that everyone – boaters and non-boater alike – can relate to and have fun while contributing towards a festive celebration for the community,” explained Admiral Carrosino.
Seattle’s Opening Day is produced by countless volunteers and is open for participation to the entire Salish Sea community. The festivities begin with a celebration of our racing traditions with rowing competitions from local, regional and international athletes. The Windermere Cup - the highlight of the rowing competition – pits national/ international schools against the University of Washington men’s and women’s crew.
The celebration culminates with decorated vessels of all shapes and sizes – dinghies, aqua cars, wooden boats, sailboats, powerboats and yachts – decorated to illustrate the “Toys Ahoy!” theme. Boaters and landlubbers alike cheer on the crew races and watch the parade of dressed and decorated vessels that proceed through the Cut.
Seattle’s nautical history goes back to 1792 when George Vancouver visited the area. Founded in 1892, Seattle Yacht Club has been instrumental in establishing boating traditions and hosting celebrations leading up to the legacy of what Opening Day is today.