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Seattle Yacht Club fires the cannon at noon Saturday, May 3, to officially start the Opening Day of boating season’s Parade of Boats through Montlake Cut.

Boating never actually ends around here, of course, but celebrating spring and the arrival of better cruising weather on the first Saturday in May has been a local tradition since 1920, a few years after the opening of the Montlake Cut, the narrow canal that connects Portage Bay and Lake Washington.

“Toys Ahoy” is the theme of this year’s parade decorations for vessels including dinghies, aqua cars, sailboats, powerboats, yachts and the Husky Band boat, ending with workboats and the water-spraying city of Seattle fireboat. Rubber duckies and other boating-themed toys will surely be on hand among boat displays competing for best-decorated awards.

Parade participants are encouraged to donate toys, books and shoes for kids for Childhaven, which will be collected at Seattle Yacht Club.

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Thousands of spectators line the shores along the Montlake Cut, undeterred by always-unpredictable spring weather. Bring a blanket or lawn chairs for seating along the cut. Best viewing for shoreside spectators is on the banks near the Montlake Bridge and any vantage point overlooking the area. Fans start gathering early. Be sure to factor into your commute that the Montlake Bridge will be closed from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the festivities. Parking is available at nearby University of Washington lots.

Dragon boat races start the day 10:10 a.m., followed by the Windermere Cup crew races starting at 10:20 a.m., with UW Crew hosting some of the best teams in the world, including Great Britain’s national team. The event’s 26 races and hundreds of participants include men’s and women’s teams in age groups from youth to ages 60-plus before the women’s and men’s 28th annual Windermere Cup championship races.

Madeline Mckenzie:

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