Arts & Culture

Leaky roof prompts Procession art studio to move to temporary Thurston Avenue spot

The moving of the species

Volunteers team up to begin moving animals to the new Procession of the Species studio in downtown Olympia.
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Volunteers team up to begin moving animals to the new Procession of the Species studio in downtown Olympia.

Neither rain nor snow nor a leaky roof can stop those who love the Procession of the Species, Olympia’s annual celebration of our planet and its flora, fauna and phenomena.

Preparations for the 25th annual procession, happening April 27, were interrupted when a leaky roof — the result of February’s heavy snow — closed the Procession Studio on Water Street.

That left participants in the do-it-yourself human-powered pageant scrambling for work space in their homes, and organizers searching for another studio where the community could come to work on big projects, learn new skills and use such potentially messy materials as papier-mâché and batik.

They found a temporary studio — open only through Procession day — in an empty warehouse at 210 Thurston Ave. NE in downtown Olympia, which hosted an adjunct studio eight years ago.

Last Saturday, 20-some procession stalwarts powered through not only rain but hail to move much of the studio’s contents to the new space.

Items moving to the Thurston Avenue location included many of the event’s iconic large pieces: the rhino, the lion and the big-lipped sun that has — unlike the actual sun — put in an appearance at every Procession.

The new studio is only temporary, procession founder Eli Sterling told The Olympian, and many of the art materials remain in the dry areas of the Water Street studio, which will serve as the launching point for April 26’s Luminary Procession.

“We are still searching for an inexpensive permanent storage site of 1,000 square feet,” Sterling said. “We will not have a year-round art studio through the remainder of this year, and we will be re-evaluating the practicality of staging a Procession Community Art Studio in 2020.”

All are welcome to dress up as their favorite species of plant or animal and join the Procession, and all are welcome at the studio, where volunteers can help orient newcomers to the mysteries of mask-making and hot glue guns.

The new space also will host luminary workshops, and there’s a shaker-making station, too.

“Our goal is to have around 600 shakers to hand out along the route,” volunteer Michael Smith of Olympia posted on Facebook. “We’re halfway there now.”

Procession Studio

  • What: After a leaky roof closed the Procession Studio on Water Street, organizers have opened a new studio where the community is welcome to work on costumes, masks and floats, as well as make shakers and build luminaries.
  • When: 3-8 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays and noon-8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and by appointment
  • Where: 210 Thurston Ave. NE, Olympia
  • More information: 360-705-1087,

Luminary workshops

  • Luminary moon or star: 6-9 p.m. Thursday and 1-4:30 p.m. Saturday for adults and youths 10 and older with an adult helper. Attend both sessions to complete a luminary. $20. Email to reserve a spot.
  • Luminary globe: 6-9 p.m. Thursday and 1-4:30 p.m. Saturday for adults and youths 8 and older with an adult helper. Choose one session. $10. Email to reserve a spot.

Procession of the Species

  • What: The 25th annual procession — a parade with no words and no motorized vehicles except wheelchairs — will celebrate the natural world and human creativity with music, dance, floats, costumes, masks and more.
  • When: 4:30 p.m. April 27
  • Where: Begins at Cherry Street and Legion Way, Olympia, and ends in Heritage Park
  • Tickets: Free; donations to the Thurston County Food Bank encouraged

Luminary Procession

  • What: The procession before the procession celebrates the element of spirit with illuminated lanterns and live music.
  • When: 8:30 p.m. April 26
  • Where: Begins and ends at 5th Avenue and Washington Street, Olympia
  • Get involved: If you’d like to carry a luminary, meet at 8 p.m. at the old Procession Studio, 405 Water St. SW, Olympia.
  • Also: The event is weather-dependent, because the luminary art can’t withstand heavy rain.