Carrying signs that included "Don't leave your debt to me" and "My Piggy Bank is Not Your Pork Barrel," thousands of people gathered across the region on tax day Wednesday to lash out against government spending.

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Carrying signs that included “Don’t leave your debt to me” and “My Piggy Bank is Not Your Pork Barrel,” thousands of people gathered across the region on tax day Wednesday to lash out against government spending.

In Olympia, where the largest of the Puget Sound-area demonstrations occurred, some 5,000 people spilled across the state Capitol steps. It was the largest rally on the Capitol campus in about five years, said State Patrol Sgt. Freddy Williams.

There were several protests in the Seattle area. The largest, at downtown Seattle’s Westlake Plaza, brought out 1,000 to 1,200 protesters.

The protests were part of the national Tax Day Tea Party demonstrations at statehouses and town squares across the country. The “tea” in this case stood for “taxed enough already.”

While organizers billed the gatherings as nonpartisan, protesters across Western Washington appeared to share the same disapproving view of federal spending and President Obama.

They also took aim at state lawmakers who’ve been talking about higher sales taxes or an income tax aimed at the wealthy to help balance the state budget.

In Olympia, state Sen. Janéa Holmquist, R-Moses Lake, was greeted with cheers and whistles when she said Democratic lawmakers’ response to the sour economy has been “a sudden lurch toward socialism.”

“They want us to hold our noses and take a little bit of socialism like a child taking a bitter pill,” Holmquist said. “You can get pregnant with a little socialism, and sooner or later you’re going to give birth to a full-blown Marxist.”

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation sponsored the Olympia rally, which featured Holmquist, state Auditor Brian Sonntag, initiative king Tim Eyman and a handful of other speakers.

The foundation, an Olympia-based conservative think tank, had told the State Patrol it expected 500 people to attend. About 10 times that many showed up.

The State Patrol’s Williams said there were no arrests at the event, which started soon after many participants marched over from Olympia City Hall.

Janice Gammill, of Graham, Pierce County, said she attended because “I’m worried about the direction our country is going.”

Gammill wore a necklace fashioned out of tea bags — peppermint and green tea “for the greenies,” she said.

Jim Gill, of Bremerton, who came with a co-worker, said he wants to “send a message to the government that we’re tired of them wasting our tax money.”

Many of the same sentiments could be heard at demonstrations in downtown Seattle, Bellevue and Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood.

Keli Carender was among the speakers at Seattle’s Westlake Plaza. The 29-year-old adult-basic-education teacher was also an organizer of the early-evening protest.

“Personally, my message from me to all the lawmakers, nationwide and statewide, is, ‘Repeal the pork or retire,’ ” she told a reporter. She addressed the crowd wearing a blue Little Bo Peep sort of outfit with above-the-knee white stockings, and called herself “Liberty Belle.”

Keric McKenna is a research analyst who lives in Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood.

“I think the legacy of taxation will be a crippling burden,” said McKenna, 27. “There is very little slack in the system. There is just enough water left in the towel to wrench a few more drops.”

About 20 Seattle police bicycle officers watched from the side, chatting among themselves because there was nothing else to do. About 45 minutes into the protest, many of the cops were gone.

Earlier, under sunny skies in Bellevue, more than 200 people, some dressed in suits, streamed toward a grassy park adjacent to City Hall for a lunchtime rally.

They hoisted handmade signs with slogans such as “Can we bankrupt the country? Yes we can,” and “Obama-Reid-Pelosi: The Axis of Taxes” (referring to the president, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi), and they waved American flags.

One woman chained to her ankle an inflated gold ball with “Gov’t” written on the side.

Mary Wilson, 44, of Auburn, said she is frustrated by government spending.

“If you don’t come out, you can’t really complain about the way things are,” she said.

Heather Renner, 57, of Renton, said she opposes Obama’s efforts to have the government help banks out of the financial crisis and believes the president is moving the country away from capitalism.

“Let free enterprise and capitalism take its course and not bail everyone out,” she said. “I know he thinks he’s right but I believe that he’s wrong and going to get us in deeper trouble. We’ll find out in the next couple of years.”

At a small protest in Lake City, retired bartender Liz Monta, of Ballard, said she was upset with bank bailouts, “nationalizing health care and Obama’s socialist agenda.”

Jennifer Sullivan: 360-236-8267 or