Celebration makes for a good weekend

Thumbs up - Arts Walk

Last weekend’s Procession of the Species and 38th annual Arts Walk showcased Olympia at its best. After weathering a rainy fall Arts Walk, participants basked in the sunshine of the spring Arts Walk that began Friday and extended through Saturday. More than 130 artists were able to display their work that included pottery, photography, metal work and watercolors. The street entertainment was rocking and a big thumbs up to the downtown businesses and nonprofits that opened their doors to the artists and the public. Linda Hansen enjoyed her first Arts Walk since moving to Olympia from Maple Valley last year. “It’s just a very happy place to be,” she said. Happy indeed. It was all smiles for Saturday evening’s Procession of the Species. Eli Sterling, founder of the Olympia-based Earthbound Productions, started the procession in 1995 to mark Earth Day and press for the congressional renewal of the Endangered Species Act. It celebrates the four elements; participants can dress up in costumes representing earth, wind, fire or water. This year’s procession proceeded at a leisurely pace so spectators who lined downtown streets could see every manatee, lion, jellyfish, salmon and zebra. The costumes were especially creative and the rhythmic drumming and dancing of Samba Olywa was simply outstanding. As spectator Laura Lynn said: “This is community at its best.”

Thumbs down - Vandals

Three teenage boys have been arrested for investigation of vandalism after allegedly smashing the sides of three bus shelters on Ruddell Road. Two Lacey police officers noticed the damage in the predawn hours. It was easy to spot with the shattered glass and gaping holes. One of the officers contacted a teenager walking down the street. The teen acted “nervous and fidgety,” according to police reports and during the interview admitted to vandalizing the shelters with the help of two others. Lacey police Sgt. Dave Campbell said the teenagers were booked into the Thurston County juvenile detention center on investigation of second-degree malicious mischief. The damage to public property is disconcerting because the shelters provide bus passengers with a place to wait that’s protected from the wind and rain. “It’s tough to be providing a public service and then to have individuals basically take advantage of a good public service,” said Intercity Transit spokeswoman Meg Kester.

Thumbs down - General Administration

The state Department of General Administration mishandled the request to dedicate a tree on the state Capitol Campus in honor of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Sen. Rosa Franklin, D-Tacoma, and other leaders of the Seattle-Tacoma black community worked for years to have a tree planted on the campus in King’s honor. It was a great idea, but General Administration officials blew the request. They blew it because they approached Tumwater residents Tony and Marilyn Sexton with a request that they donate a seedling from the famous Bush tree. That’s the butternut tree that Washington pioneer George Bush brought with him all the way from Missouri in 1845. As an African American and son of a slave, it took an act of Congress for Bush to claim his land under the 1850 Donation Land Claim Law. But the Sextons were never told that the seedling they donated would honor King, not Bush. “I still kind of feel like the George Bush tree was hijacked up there on the campus,” said Sexton, a former Thurston County undersheriff. General Administration spokeswoman Sharon Case admitted that mistakes were made. “I regret that more discussion hadn’t occurred earlier, and with more people,” Case said. Now the tree, dedicated on Arbor Day, honors the life and contributions of both Bush and King. The confusion could have been eliminated if GA officials had tackled this project correctly.