Octopuses, peacocks, frogs and jellyfish paraded through the streets of downtown Olympia on Saturday afternoon, and hundreds of spectators lined the streets, watching in awe.
Children waved at the passing animals, as participants carried their large-scale puppets and wheeled creations in the 21st Procession of the Species. There are only three rules for participation: no words, no pets and no motorized vehicles.
So for local artists, the sky is the limit.
Some, like 7-year-old Sienna Warlow of Olympia, picked their costumes based on their favorite animal. Sienna chose the banana slug because she thinks the slimy, yellow creatures are cute. She even keeps one as a pet.
The other benefit, said her mother, Emily Streich, is that the slugs are relatively easy to find.
“She can just go outside and look for them,” Streich said.
But Sienna said that so far, the slugs have been a little rarer this year ― although she’s not sure why. She has kept one banana slug as a pet for the past three weeks and feeds it plants.
Another mother-child duo, 4-year-old Julian and Joann Terranova, dressed up for the Procession because it’s an Olympia rite of passage. Joann Terranova said that she has participated before, but not since her older son was Julian’s age.
Julian, a bald eagle, donned a mask-and-hat combination, fitted with a yellow beak. His speech was muffled through the beak, but he said his costume was “good.”
Joann Terranova wore a large straw hat, covered with a bird’s nest.
“We’re eagle and nest,” she said. “It’s a fun combination.”
Julian wasn’t the only bird present Saturday. Two other Procession favorites also picked the “air” category.
The Samba OlyWA dancers donned feather boas and red plumage to represent pileated woodpeckers. Margaret Hunt also donned a large, white hoop skirt as part of her costume.
She said that the group rotates through the four seasons each year, and Samba OlyWA members nominate animals to dress as. She said it’s hardest to think of animals for the fire element, so the group typically chooses an endangered species instead.
Hunt measures her time with Samba OlyWA by the costumes she has donned.
“People ask me how long I’ve been doing this, and I’ve been doing it since we were zebras,” Hunt said. “I guess that was eight years ago.”
Celena Berebitsky and a group of second-graders from the Olympia Waldorf School dressed as peacock chicks to accompany the huge peacock puppet her father, Jerry Berebitsky, created for this year’s Procession. Many Procession fans remember Berebitsky’s work on a 20-foot giraffe that was retired after last year’s event.
Under her brown chick outfit, Celena also wore a colorful peacock costume.
“This way, if I get tired of my first costume, I can just take it off and wear this,” Celena said.
And while most of the Procession participants are from Thurston County, many come from all over Washington state.
Richelle Potter, for example, said she has been volunteering with Procession since the beginning. She continues to come down from Skagit County to help out, even though she moved away from Olympia years ago.
“It’s an event that brings lots of people of like minds and like hearts together,” Potter said. “It’s a great thing to be a part of.”