By Gretchen Wing
On Saturday, April 13, at 3:30 p.m., Lopez Island’s Earth Day celebration — the Procession of the Species — will swim, crawl, amble and flutter into its ninth year. To participate, all you need is a costume or adornments that display any living thing—animal, plant, fungus—wearable while walking approximately two-thirds of a mile. Meanwhile, less artsy Earth lovers have a role equally important: watching the procession, cheering and taking pictures.
The procession is sponsored by Lopez Island Conservation Corps, San Juan Island Conservation District, the Bureau of Land Management and by the after-school outdoor program Muddy Boots. But this Procession celebrates a special theme: “Three Steps to an Orca,” to highlight the decline of the local Southern resident killer whales, and the importance of the larger ecological web in protecting them, and all life.
According to Libby Valluzzi, former LICC crew leader and founder of Muddy Boots, “Three tiers of the food web lead up to orcas: one, phytoplankton and diatoms; two, forage fish like herring and sandlance; and three, wild salmon. Habitat loss, urbanization, environmental toxins, river damming and climate change are some of the many factors leading to the disruption of this food web, but dedicating our efforts to improving the health and vitality of all biodiversity in the Salish Sea is the key to achieving positive change.”
Participants are welcome to adorn themselves as any species they wish, but those desiring to join the “Three Steps to an Orca” theme should keep those food-web levels in mind. Since the Procession of the Species was founded in Olympia over 20 years ago, only three rules govern costumes: please, no written words; no motors; and no living animals. This is a free, all-ages event, rain or shine, and open to the public.
Need help costuming your child? LICC is offering a kids’ workshop to create “feeder fish” and “diatom” costumes from 12:30 to 2:30, prior to the procession, in the Family Resource Center’s Conference Room. LICC members will be on hand with materials. Children 5-12 are welcome but must bring an adult. Sponsoring agencies will offer environmental education at the same time, on “Three Steps to an Orca.”
The procession will assemble at Lopez Village Park. From 3 to 3:30 p.m., extra animal costumes and accessories will be available for borrowing, so come on out and see what kind of creature you can turn into. The procession kicks off promptly at 3:30 p.m. to the vibrant beat of local samba musicians—swimming, crawling, ambling and fluttering its way around the Village in honor of all life on Earth.