By Chloe Marina Manchester
I am not from Olympia, I got here in last fall to start my Sophomore year at Evergreen. The first Arts Walk I went to was the fall one and it was, for me, kind of an exciting bust. I didn’t know downtown. I didn’t know what I was doing. So I just ended up wandering and drinking way too much coffee for lack of anything else to do. For Spring Arts Walk I was determined to actually enjoy it and know what I was doing, or at least put up a pretty convincing act that I knew what I was doing.
I went on Friday night with a who is actually friend from here. Home grown Oly trash. I was doing a pretty good impression of being Oly trash myself, or at the very least, pretty identifiably Evergreen, for good or ill. I have green hair and was dressed entirely in black and grey, complete with a pleather jacket, some beat up Doc Martins, and a beanie. We got downtown and went in search of coffee, once that was acquired we, as (transplant and otherwise) northwesterners, could actually function.
We wandered around downtown and stopped into shops that looked like they might have free samples, shout out to Hot Toddy and Encore Chocolates and Teas for proving us right. There was a huge number of people out on Friday night, it looked like what people from small towns think Olympia looks like all the time. There were a couple main things going on, although I use the term main very loosely. There were crowds of people circled around other people who were doing things. Dancing, break dancing, fire twirling, and a pretty annoying clown to name a few. I heard at least three Prince songs blasting over crappy speakers that night. There were children and young parents almost everywhere you looked and crust punks smoking cigarettes and other right next to them.
I don’t really know very much about actual art and this Arts Walk seemed to be less about actual art than it was about downtown Olympia, a far cry from the very art centric Arts Walk of my hometown. It seemed like people wanted to put themselves on display more than they wanted to see art, their own or otherwise, on display. When we got there the sun was setting but now darkness had settled in. It was around that time that my friend and I decided that, theoretically, Arts Walk might be more fun under the influence, not that either of us would ever do a thing like that, of course.
This being Olympia, both my friend and I ran into at least seven people we knew. Around the time the Luminary Procession started, which I couldn’t get a good picture of for the life of me, we ran into someone my friend knew who wanted to go eat food. Going to the Reef was brought up but then shot down, apparently I only like the Reef because I’m new in town. Not going to the Reef was validated when we walked past and saw the crush of people and Olympia Weirdos TM inside. We ended up going to Old School Pizzeria, which had no less people or Olympia Weirdos TM inside, but did have the added benefit of being pizza.
It was about nine at that point and we picked up another person for our little rag tag group. And, of course, this being Olympia, we went with him to get his nipples pierced. Which apparently hurts.
On Saturday, I coerced more Friends With Cars into going to to Arts Walk with me for Procession of the Species Celebration. According to their website the Procession of the Species Celebration is an artist pageant about connection to the natural world, “on Procession day, residents don their creative expressions and proceed through the streets of Olympia in masks and costumes. Carrying banners, windsocks, and giant puppets, they participate in a cultural exchange honoring the awe and splendor of the natural world.” As an artistic pageant, the Procession seeks to cement art’s place in public expression. As a celebration of the natural world, the Procession seeks to awaken the public to issues surrounding environmentalism, and the protection of the world in which we live. I feel like I need to mention one of the most hilarious details about the Procession, it wasn’t even in the actual Procession. There were people holding up religious signs, like the abortion protesters that sometimes show up on Red Square like to do. I couldn’t tell what they were actually protesting. Maybe they just wanted an audience? Is it an anti evolution thing? I have no idea. It was pretty funny, though.
The Procession started with bees. A lot of bees playing music, something I recognized but couldn’t quite place. And then came the ocean. And then it moved onto land and then sky. For the most part, it was people and children dressed up as things from the natural world playing music, dancing, or both. Some of the parade, however, was made up of elaborately constructed animals, some of which looked like they had twenty people controlling them. The largest of which was an immense twentyfour foot peacock. One of my favourite animals represented was a giant penis, oh, I’m sorry, it was actually geoduck. The geoduck in question had a water bottle and every so often it would squirt water out, like its brethren in the sand. I could not, for the life of me, figure out how the person in the geoduck costume knew where they were going. There were no eye holes that I could see.
The Procession of the Species Celebration was honestly the best parade I can remember going to in my life. Everyone was smiling and dancing and celebrating the world in which we live. And none of the kids even cared that they weren’t getting pelted with candy. As my grandmother once said while drunk, “All you really need for a parade is penguins, anything else is just a waste.” I might be misremembering, but I’m pretty sure this parade had penguins.