By Gretchen Wing
What’s it like to walk a mile in the shoes of an octopus? Or an eagle, or a raccoon or a madrona? Lopez Island’s Earth Day celebration, the Procession of the Species, at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, will give creative-minded folks the chance to find out.
To participate, all you need is a costume or adornments that display any living thing — animal, plant, fungus — wearable while walking approximately 2/3 of a mile. Meanwhile, less-artsy lovers of creation have a job just as important: watching the procession, cheering and taking pictures.
The eighth annual procession is sponsored by Lopez Island Conservation Corps, San Juan Island Conservation District, the Bureau of Land Management and the brand-new children’s after-school outdoor program — Muddy Boots.
This year the theme is native species. Of course, all species, native and exotic, are welcome in the procession. In fact, since the Procession of the Species was founded in Olympia over 20 years ago, only three rules govern costumes: no written words; no motors; and no living animals. This is a free, all-ages event, rain or shine, and open to the public. Musical instruments, especially drums, are very welcome; they help set a bouncy beat for all the critters on parade.
Got a great idea for an orca costume, but need help putting it together? This year, LICC is offering a costume-making workshop from noon to 3 p.m. on the same day as the procession, in the Community Church hall. LICC board members will be on hand with materials to help you or your attending children get into costume. Several of the sponsoring agencies will offer environmental education at the same time, enriching the workshop into a kind of enviro-fair.
The procession then assembles just down Lopez Road at the community park, same as last year. It kicks off promptly at 3:30 p.m., so plan to arrive early to get set up and ogle the other amazing costumes. Want to participate, but have no time to spare before 3 p.m.? Extra animal costumes and accessories will be carried down to the Community Park start point, so come on out and see what kind of creature you can turn into. Plenty of easy-to-carry orca fins will be available if you wish to help embody the islands’ beloved J Pod. Or who knows — you might just get to walk that 2/3 mile in octopus shoes.