It may seem to be a wonder why in a city filled with trees that space under them was such prime realty, but on Saturday the sun’s heat was unrelenting and there was not a single cloud in sight.
If there was ever a wrong day to wear a Seattle Seahawks’ home jersey, this was it.
People staked out their positions under Hoquiam Timberland Library’s trees, on the edge of the various curbs and some people parked with their SUV trunks open to get a covered view of the Hoquiam Loggers Playday parade, which ran through the city’s downtown.
“I’m excited I’m in the shade,” Bill Bennett said with his eight-year-old grandson Elliott next to him.
A young mother and her daughter joined them under that tree, while others told the elder Bennett how smart it was to claim the space.
Bennett, a proud Hoquiam Grizzly who graduated in 1969 from Hoquiam High School, has lived in Hoquiam for most of his life. While he can’t remember which year was his first to attend Hoquiam Loggers Playday, he said he knew it had been many years.
“I don’t know how long exactly, but it’s fun being part of it,” said Bennett, who has also commercially fished in Alaska for many years. “It’s wonderful. The show is wonderful.”
It’s Saturday’s type of crowd who have sustained Hoquiam Loggers Playday for nearly 60 years. Shane Krohn, HHS’ athletic director and retired Hoquiam police sergeant, estimated about 4,000 people attended the parade and about 5,000 attended the logging show. And then there’s how much it raised for the community, which is a huge point to Hoquiam Loggers Playday.
“Playday sold over $14,000 in regular buttons and over $5,500 in scholarship buttons,” Krohn said Monday. “We appreciate the hard work that went into selling the buttons by our amazing court and the huge amount of community support we receive. This money keeps Playday going and will allow us to continue supporting kids and programs throughout the year. Thank you Grays Harbor and surrounding counties.”
Minutes before the parade started, an elderly woman shared her feelings publicly.
“Parades are so much fun!” the woman exclaimed to a young child standing near her about the Tenino Motorcycle Drill Team who rode as part of the parade. “Did you see their motorcycles?”
There was no question people were enjoying themselves during the parade. They gawked at classic cars, waved at the Hoquiam Loggers Playday Queens of the Court, Polson Museum’s Director John Larson showed off some historical vehicles, children ran after candy several different floats threw out onto the asphalt pavement. The attendees were — in a single word — pumped.
John Kaczmarczyk, who was all smiles Saturday afternoon, was drinking from his bottle of cold Gatorade. Kaczmarczyk spoke of how he’s thoroughly enjoyed Hoquiam Loggers Playday and how things have changed since he was a boy.
“I’m 54, I’ve been coming here since the days of when kegs of beer and hard alcohol were out in the open,” Kaczmarczyk said with a smile and a laugh.
There were no beer or hard alcohol vendors this year, but people who wanted to imbibe had at least a couple options to do so at indoor venues, such as the Hoquiam Elks Lodge 1082 and at Hoquiam Brewing Company, who was celebrating their sixth anniversary.
Kaczmarczyk gave a little detail about his favorite part of Hoquiam Loggers Playday, which has also changed.
“Growing up, it was the log trucks,” Kaczmarczyk said. “I remember binder tossing with my dad. As an adult, I don’t go to the (loggers) show as much, but I love the parade. I love the social aspect because I end up seeing people I haven’t seen in a long time.”
If Kaczmarczyk did not attend the logging show Saturday night, he missed out on a new experience — hearing Hoquiam High School’s marching band perform “The Star Spangled Banner.” Krohn gave a positive and succinct review of the band’s performance.
“The HHS marching band did an outstanding job marching onto the field and performing the national anthem, a first at Playday,” Krohn said.
In addition to HHS performing for the logging show and parade crowd, Aberdeen High School played a resounding rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and Montesano High School’s cheer squad also performed during the parade.
On 7th Street, in between K and J Street, people sold their wares and provided food to plenty of hungry people. One of the vendors, Karen and Ryan Rowe, was selling their flavorful “Nice Nuts.” The Rowes, who own and run GH Wine Sellars, in Aberdeen, got to the vendor fair at about 9 a.m., and were glad to be out to support Hoquiam Loggers Playday.
“It’s our first year doing Hoquiam Loggers Playday as vendors,” Karen Rowe said. “It’s good. It’s been improving steadily since the day’s gone on. It’s beautiful out today. How can you not enjoy it?”
Karen Rowe spoke about a few of her favorite vendors.
“We’ve already been to Smitty’s Dog Cone, My TOWN Coalition, Bay City Sausages — gotta get the turkey legs because that’s a must,” she said. “And Demo’s Burgers has the best burgers. They’re big and they have caramelized onions.”
Karen Rowe’s hand gestures that showed how big the onion burgers Steven Puvogel and Brian Blake were making were not an exaggeration because the burgers were quite large. Puvogel and Blake talked about Hoquiam Loggers Playday.
“This is one of the best parades you’re gonna find,” Puvogel said. “It runs for like two hours.”
Blake said he couldn’t wait for the logging show later in the day at Olympic Stadium.
“I like the logging show,” Blake said. “I logged for several outlets here on the Harbor and in Alaska.”
Blake worked for several logging outlets, including the Mayr Bros. Logging Company, in Hoquiam.
Back on K Street, the Hoquiam Loggers Playday parade rolled on by.
In addition to the shiny, red fire trucks, the huge payloads of wood the logging trucks carried, and so many other floats that ran down 8th Street and then K Street, people did as Kaczmarczyk said earlier in the day, they had fun getting reacquainted.
And for anyone who chose to eat elsewhere for dinner, if they had the money to support Hoquiam Lions Club’s salmon bake, they missed out on flavorful and masterfully prepared king salmon. A baked potato, roll and a couple of other sides came with the almost-steak-like filet, but the salmon was the star. One person even said “My god, that’s so good,” and asked for extras.
The logging show was a resounding success, too. Here are the winners in each of the events, according to Hoquiam Loggers Playday Committee. (Provided finishing times are included for first through third place in each event:)
Local all-around champion:
Local Axe Throw:
First place — Boggs
Second place — Lee Pickett
Third place — Nicholas Strachota
Local Power Saw Bucking:
First place — Boggs — 25.43
Second place — Paul Pendergraft — 25.98
Third place — Tim Spradlin — 27.21
First place — Nicholas Strachota — 53.4
Second place — Derek Such — 1:04:60
Third place — Boggs — 1:21.10
Local Choker Setting:
First place — Nicholas Strachota — 18.12
Second place — Boggs — 18.81
Third place — Tristan Mefford — 19.12
Local Double Buck:
First place — Brady Cummings and Gage Daniels — 52.55
Second place — Derek Such and Harry Thayer — 53.18
Third place — Paul Pendergraft and Kris Cain — 54.00
First place — Cody Labahn — 25.09
Second place — David Moses — 27.38
Third place — Tristan Van Beek — 35.86
First place — Van Beek — 1:22.60
Second place — Trevor Baker — 1:43.70
Third place — Moses — 1:46.60
Obstacle Pole Bucking:
First place — Nicholas Strachota — 15.85
Second place — Xander Waibel — 17.50
Third place — Boggs — 17.68
Ma & Pa Bucking:
First place — Erin Cramsey and Labahn — 14.54
Second place — Moses and Jaymee Jones — 26.90
Third place — Johnson and Amelia Moir — 1:03.10
Open Axe Throw:
First place — Mike Johnson
Second place — Dwight Severson
Third place — Moses
Open Double Buck:
First place — Van Beek and Dwight Severson — 14.30
Second place — Moses and Jack Lipkin — 14.60
Third place — Brad Nellis and Ian Wilson — 14.93
Open Power Saw:
First place — Cody Labahn — 26.60
Second place — Moses — 26.86
Third place — Trevor Baker — 27.05
First place — T.J. Bexten — 5.30
Second place — Moses — 5.56
Third place — Lipkin — 5.90
First place — Van Beek — 18.30
Second place — Benjamin Emond — 26.60
Third place —Nellis — 34.90
Open Choker Setting:
First place — Labahn — 16.41
Second place — Van Beek — 16.43
Third place — Waibel — 16.94
Krohn was excited to talk about how well the Hoquiam Loggers Playday logging show did Saturday.
“The show was one of the smoothest in the 59 years of Playday,” Krohn said. “Events finished at 8:30 p.m. and the fireworks were spectacular. The Playday Committee is extremely excited for next year as it will be the 60th.”