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Seafair

From Academic Kids

Seafair is a summer festival in Seattle, Washington, USA that encompasses a wide variety of small neighborhood events leading up to several major city-wide celebrations. While many small block parties and local parades occur under the auspices of Seafair, most Seattle residents associate Seafair with the Torchlight Parade, hydroplane races, and the Blue Angels. Seafair has been an annual event in Seattle since 1950.

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The early stages of Seafair

Seafair begins in early July; since 1972, its arrival has been heralded by the Milk Carton Derby, a whimsical boat race on Green Lake in which all the boats have been constructed out of empty milk cartons. Entries always range from those carefully shaped for speed and stability to those designed for maximum amusement. The Derby is usually associated with a variety of activities for children and families on the shores of Green Lake.

The festival added the Seafair Half Marathon in 2002. Participants can run or walk the 13.1-mile course. If a shorter distance is more appealing, participants can run or walk a 5 km course. The Seafair Half Marathon begins and ends at Bellevue, Washington's Bellevue Downtown Park. After the race, participants enjoy live music and other activities.

The Triathlon and Torchlight festivities

The Seafair Triathlon is held on the shores of Lake Washington from Seward Park. It involves a half-mile swim, 12-mile bike ride, and 5 km run. Participants can compete individually or as a team. Typically, the Seafair Triathlon is held the third weekend of July. In 2003, the Seafair Triathlon was the second largest triathlon in the state of Washington.

The last weekend in July belongs to the Torchlight Parade and Torchlight Run. Many local organizations participate in these events, held on the streets of downtown Seattle. The local woman who has been selected as "Miss Seafair" (prior to 1972, "Seafair Queen") in the Seafair beauty pageant plays a prominent role in the parade. It is traditionally preceded by the Torchlight Run, a short (8 km) race through the city's streets in which many participants run in costume.

The Chevrolet Cup and the Blue Angels

The most attended event of Seafair is the hydroplane racing circuit's stop at Stan Sayres Pits on Lake Washington in the Mount Baker neighborhood. The Chevrolet Cup races, which occur at the end of July or the beginning of August, attract tens of thousands of spectators, both those standing on the public shores of the lake, and those in boats anchored just outside the course in the lake itself. The same weekend, in a tradition re-started in 1972, the Blue Angels are brought to Seattle to perform their aerial stunts. (The Angels are a controversial part of Seafair, as some local residents fear an accident involving the low-flying aircraft, and many more find the noise of the jet engines irritating. They were banned from Seafair in 1994 and 1995 as a result of these concerns. In 1996 the Angels flew in a separate event from the hydro race, but this was a financial flop, and they returned to being part of the race-weekend festivities in 1997.)

The controversial Seafair Pirates

Another controversial aspect of Seafair is the involvement of the Seafair Pirates, an organization that works year-round entertaining children in hospitals and performing other acts of community service. However, the Pirates also usually perform loud--occasionally offensive--antics at Seafair (in an attempt to live up to their name) that cause perennial objection to their prominent involvement in the festivities.

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