Sand in the City changing locations this year

May 25, 2012 

Summer and festivals go together like peanut butter and jelly. And like the soft and slightly squishy lunchbox favorites of old, festivals have a certain predictability that’s a huge part of their appeal.

Olympia’s Capital Lakefair has fireworks, princesses and Demo Burgers. The Pet Parade has pets, kids and ice cream. Harbor Days has tugboats, and Sand in the City has, well, sand.

But while some favorite summertime events have no more news than their 2012 themes, both Sand in the City and Harbor Days are in transition this year: Sand in the City, the sand-sculpting competition and festival, is moving to the future home of the Hands On Children’s Museum; Harbor Days is getting new management and new attractions.

The new children’s museum site at Jefferson Street and Olympia Avenue won’t yet be open when Sand in the City happens, but the annual celebration will be a chance to get a sneak preview.

“We’re going to use all of the outdoor spaces” around the museum site, said director Patty Belmonte. “We’ll have the roll-up doors in front of the building open, so families can have a peek into the space. It’s a great way to get a feel of what it will be like to go in the new museum.”

The sculptures, activities and entertainment will be on the museum grounds and on Jefferson Street between the museum and the WET (Water Education and Technology) Science Center run by the LOTT Clean Water Alliance. Some of the new museum’s outdoor features – including a fire ring for storytelling and a bike and trike loop where kids can ride – will be part of the fun, too.

The new location will keep the Sand in the City features closer together than they were in its old location on the Port Plaza, she said.

“It will be a different experience,” she said. “We won’t be quite so spread out. Families won’t have to walk so far to find everything.”

The event also will have two stages this year – one on Jefferson Street and the other on the East Bay Public Plaza, scheduled to open in July. The plaza is a joint project of the museum, the city of Olympia, the Port of Olympia and LOTT.

“We might have entertainment on both stages,” Belmonte said. “Another bonus is that we’re right next to the LOTT WET Science Center, so families who haven’t visited the center will have a chance to see it.”

Harbor Days, meanwhile, is now a project of the Kiwanis Club of Olympia, although the South Sound Maritime Association, which had long organized the event, continues to be involved. The decision was made because the maritime group’s membership is small, and the group wanted to ensure Harbor Days’ future, said organizer Shelly Lively.

Among the planned attractions this year: more activities for kids, including a big slide and an instrument petting zoo, and a still-to-be-confirmed water show by the USS Pokagon, one of the last U.S. Navy tugboats.

The event will also host the return of El Primero, a yacht that carried judges for Harbor Days’ first tugboat races 39 years ago. The yacht, which has hosted at least four U.S. presidents, is now being restored to its former glory.

“It’s a 137-foot yacht that was originally built in 1893,” Lively said. “It used to be in port here in Olympia. It was a play boat for the rich.”


This year’s Pet Parade will be the 83rd, and The Olympian wants to publish readers’ fond memories of past parades.

“We’re asking readers to send us their favorite Pet Parade story,” said George Le Masurier, publisher of The Olympian, which organizes the parade every year.

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