If you ever want to verify if someone (over 50 years of age) is truly a Seattle native, ask them the following question: “What did you tow behind your bike during the summer?” The correct answer is a small, wooden, hydroplane, tied to the back of your bike with a strong piece of string. That’s right, back in my childhood days in Seattle, we didn’t have Seahawks, Mariners, Sonics, (oops, sorry), computers, or phones for entertainment. No, we just had sticks, old tires, and home-builtwooden hydroplanes.
If you were a little kid back then, there were two big weeks in Seattle. One was Christmas (of course), but the other one (the better one in my book) was Seafair! Hydroplanes were king here. All three networks covered the race. Everybody knew all the drivers and the boats’ names. And your parents would sell your youngest sibling for a pit pass.
My childhood gang took it very seriously. We met after dinner at my friend Bruce Lane’s house, because he had a circular driveway. All the boats had the correct paint jobs, reflecting the bike rider’s favorite boat. Personally, I was a huge Bardahl and Wahoo fan! We drew the boats out of a hat to see who would be in what elimination heat. Then we rode our bikes like maniacs around the driveway, for the correct number of laps, fighting like mad for the win. We kept points to see who would progress to the big final heat. If you lost, it wasn’t too big of a deal, because there was another race the next night. I loved it! We did it every night through July and August, getting ready to the big Seafair race at the lake.
Seattle, and the world in general, has changed for sure. But I think as a community, we need to embrace our legacy and our unique culture by keeping the quirky, fun parts of our Seattle community alive. Otherwise, we’re not a community, we’re simply just an accumulation of businesses. Seafair serves this purpose perfectly. They’re a fun-loving, smart group of folks, who work hard to find a balance between being current (“hip,” if you will), but also serving as the keepers of our glorious and really fun past.
June 15, Father’s Day, is the Seafair Kick Off at the Westlake Mall in downtown Seattle, from 8:30 to noon. And… we’re going to set the Guinness Book World Record for people towing hydroplanes behind their bikes! Come on, it’s going to be fun! We NEED you there! We don’t want Singapore or Moscow taking the record from us now do we?