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Holiday in Oly

The 17th Annual Procession of the Species and Arts Walk XLII

Expect some turtles. Photo by Matt Driscoll

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If Olympia had an official holiday, it would be the day of the annual Procession of the Species.

With no words and no motorized vehicles (except wheelchairs), the procession is a celebration of Earth Day, green power, the web of life ...  you name it.

It's also the year's best people-watching opportunity, particularly those people who just wake up the morning of the event and throw something together so they can walk in the procession. For the hip and sardonic, it doesn't get much better.

But the 17th Procession, happening Saturday, April 23, is just the polar ice cap crowning two days of festivities downtown.

On the evening of Friday, April 22, the Procession folks will ignite the weekend with the Luminary Procession (weather permitting, as the illuminated art can't withstand heavy rain).

And the weekend celebration also includes Arts Walk, the City of Olympia's twice-yearly celebration of artists both amateur and professional, great (illustrations from Nikki McClure's new book, To Market, will be shown at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts) and small (schoolchildren's art is a perennial favorite).

Besides the visual art, Arts Walk features a wide range of entertainment -  from a variety of musical acts to power-tool drag races (Saturday at noon outside Olympia Federal, fifth and Capitol).

Other highlights include storytelling by Elizabeth Lord (Friday at 6 and 8 p.m. at The Midnight Sun, 113 N. Columbia St.), and a chance to meet the Presidents of the United States of America (Friday at 7 p.m. at Luxe for Style, 410 Washington St. SE).

Street performers wow the crowds, particularly at the corner of Fifth and Washington. And some businesses offer snacks and beverages for the occasion, too.

Arts Walk XLII has a record number of participating businesses - 133, says Stephanie Johnson, Olympia's arts and events manager.

The city's Arts Walk maps, available at those businesses and at the Olympia Center (222 Columbia St. NW), list who and what is where - sort of. Some of the most interesting exhibits and shows are pulled together last minute, whether in businesses or just in empty storefronts.

Luminary Procession

Friday, April 22, 9:30 p.m., free, From Fifth and Washington to Capital Lake, 360.705.1087,

Arts Walk XLII

Friday, April 22, from 5–10 p.m. and Saturday, April 23, from noon to 8 p.m., free, throughout downtown Olympia, 360.753.8380

Procession of the Species

Saturday, April 23, 4:30 p.m., free but donations for the Thurston County Food Bank are requested of both participants and spectators, from Cherry and Legion to Heritage Park, Olympia, 360.705.1087,

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Comments for "Holiday in Oly" (1)

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Doug Riddels said on Apr. 24, 2011 at 7:24pm

Thank you for the fine article on the Procession of the Species. The weather was beautiful and the event was, as always, spectacular. And thank you for running the lovely photo of my father, Carl Riddels, driving the sea turtle. Sadly, that was Dad's last Procession, as he passed away a few months after the Procession. He drove the sea turtle for five Processions, ever since he moved back to Olympia to be near family in his final years. It was always the high point of his year, and something he enjoyed greatly. Marvelous as this year's Procession was, it had a huge turtle-shaped hole in the middle of it.

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