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COVID-19 is ‘not the death of Seafair’ this summer, say organizers

(KIRO 7)

The annual Seafair summer events — including the Blue Angels’ airshow, hydroplane races, Fourth of July Fireworks at Gas Works Park, and the Torchlight Parade — won’t be taking place this year due to the dangers of large crowds amid COVID-19.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean all the summer celebrations will have to wait until 2021.

Patrick Harrison, director of marketing and communications for Seafair, said organizers are busy looking for other ways to keep the festival’s spirit alive and well this summer.

“We’re not saying that one or two of the Blue Angels still might not come,” he said. “It won’t be the entire group, but there are going to be some flavors of Seafair that will be throughout the summer, because Seafair is not going anywhere.”

Seafair cancels its whole slate of events in 2020

Crowds of 100,000 or more have turned out to watch the Blue Angels and hydroplane races in the past. Any event this year would have to be planned in a creative way to prevent crowding.

“The number one thing is public safety,” Harrison said.

One way to avoid people going out and gathering in crowds, Harrison said, would be to bring the festivities to their neck of the woods.

“We’ve seen all the drive-up birthday parties — wouldn’t it be great to do an Alaska Airlines drive-by of a parade in one neighborhood each week for six weeks throughout the summer … throughout the entire Puget Sound, because Seafair is not just about Seattle?” he said.

Announcements will be coming out in the coming weeks alerting people to what they can look forward to in the next few months.

“Now that we’re communicating what has happened and have made that decision, moving forward, now the entire team will pivot and put together — we already have five or six pages of different ideas,” Harrison said.

The staff and thousands of volunteers look at Seafair not just as a series of events, but really as an entire Pacific Northwest spirit.

“Seafair is all about community and celebration … Seafair is summer in Seattle,” Harrison said.

And for the beloved festival, Harrison said, the COVID-19 pandemic is simply “a bump in the road.”

“This is not the death of Seafair,” he said. “We’ll come back even stronger.”

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