The theme of this year's parade was "Amazing Adventure," aiming to celebrate adventures in the Northwest. And some 103 parade entries showcased what a colorful adventure that is.

Share story

Not everyone was pleased that the star of the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” Sig Hansen, was the grand marshal at Saturday’s Torchlight Parade.

One man was rather upset.

“His boat only goes 10 knots,” said Seattle’s Chip Hanauer, the second-most-winning hydroplane racer in American history. “Mine goes 200 miles an hour.”

The celebrity crab-boat captain and Hanauer both grew up in Seattle, and have fond memories of the Torchlight Parade. Now, they’re a part of it.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

A third-generation Seattleite, Hanauer often made the trip downtown with his family to watch the parade. His most vivid memories are of the nightmares he had after the Seafair pirates scraped their swords along the curb where he sat.

Seafair pirates, Hanauer said, are far scarier than being behind the wheel of a hydroplane.

Saturday night, Hanauer was riding with the Boeing Hydroplane, up on a flatbed.

Although Hanauer may think it unjust, Hansen said, his appointment as grand marshal makes up for all the years he has had to miss the parade. This is only the third summer he’s taken off from fishing since he was 14, Hansen said.

This summer, he’s working on his boat, the Northwestern.

In 1978, a fleet of fishing boats paraded on the Sound for Seafair. Hansen’s father, a fisherman before him, received a letter from the governor for his participation, which was very exciting, Hansen said.

“Now it’s gone full circle,” he said. “It’s really flattering.”

As Hansen walked around Seattle Center, smiling fans came up to ask for pictures.

Being the grand marshal is fun, Hansen said, “but I’m still a fisherman.”

More than 150,000 people were expected to attend the 59th Torchlight parade, Seafair spokesman Dan Wartelle said.

The theme of this year’s parade was “Amazing Adventure,” aiming to celebrate adventures in the Northwest. And some 103 parade entries showcased what a colorful adventure that is.

The Falun Gong Association of Washington participated for the fifth year. Association members practice a type of Chinese meditation that was banned in China in 1999. Their float hosted practitioners in Tang Dynasty costumes demonstrating various forms of meditation.

Behind them were the Sikhs of Washington, playing traditional Punjabi music and demonstrating Gatka, a Sikh martial art.

“I’m a little nervous,” said Amandeep Sangha, 12, who was twirling a chakra ring in his first parade performance.

Sandy Owens-Carmody traveled from Leavenworth to represent her hometown as Royal Lady of the Autumn Leaf, dressed in a Bavarian dirndl and pewter jewelry to represent the town’s German influences.

Having just celebrated her 50th birthday, she was a bit older than much of the parade’s royalty. The title is chosen based on civic contribution, she said, by a secret committee.

Families with foldout chairs and popcorn lined the sidewalks of Fourth Avenue to see all the performers.

Hanauer said the Seafair parade has a special place in his heart:

“Tonight seems like the only night Seattle feels like a small town.”

Leslie Anne Jones: 206-464-2745 or

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.