The first Seafair was a 10-day-long celebration with hundreds of events.
Seafair, the maritime-themed Seattle celebration, rolls around every summer with hydroplane races, community festivals, a parade and much more.
Its predecessor, the Golden Potlatch, started in 1911.
The first Seafair started Friday, Aug. 11, 1950, with a blast of whistles and the arrival of King Neptune I, according to a Times story. The king was Victor E. Rabel.
Capping Friday night was a sold-out performance by the Aqua Follies synchronized swim troupe at the Aqua Theatre on the south shore of Green Lake. More than 59,000 people saw the Aqua Follies perform during Seafair, according to HistoryLink.
The Aqua Theatre and Aqua Follies lasted into the 1960s performing every summer at Seafair and at the 1962 World’s Fair.
The first Seafair parade was held that Saturday with more than 150,000 people attending.
The Seafair pirates came onto the scene on the fourth day of Seafair. The roving ruffians’ goal was to create mischief and upset King Neptune’s rule.
Barbara Curtis was crowned the first Seafair Queen of the Seas on Aug. 16. The Times asked her to describe the experience right before she was named queen:
“When we went up on the stage of the Civic Auditorium my heart was pounding so, I was sure the audience could see it. When the king’s counselor walked right past me – well, I thought: “That’s over; that’s the end of me.’ I looked away, trying to keep my disappointment from showing. Then there was a hush, and I glanced around, and he was holding his arm out to me! I was the queen! I shook so hard the flower almost fell out of my bouquet and, going toward the throne, I was deathly afraid I’d tangle my feet in my gown and fall flat. I was so flustered I forgot to smile. But it was all wonderful!”
The pirate mischief culminated on the last day of Seafair in the burning of the steamship Bellingham on Elliott Bay. The ritual burning of a ship during Seafair lasted to the 1960s.
Other events, happening all over the Seattle area, included a police pistol tournament, fishing contents, a national water-ski competition on Green Lake and Seafair pirates showing up all over town.