Women’s March draws diverse crowd in Ocean Shores

Local civic demonstration coincides with national marches

About 150 North Beach area women, men, a few four-legged friends and folks from around Grays Harbor marched in Ocean Shores Saturday in concert with the millions who likewise marched in Washington, D.C., Seattle, Chicago, New York and many other U.S.cities.

It was the only known march in Grays Harbor County, with some protesting the new president and calls for solidarity in support of women’s rights and human rights.

“Marching is something that is not new to me,” said Doreen Cato, a North Beach School Board member who helped carry the lead banner for the march. “When I was 14, I marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in the city of Detroit because we wanted an end to what was going on and the hurtfulness to human rights. And today, I am 68 and again marching for the same thing I did when I was 14.”

The North Beach Women’s March started at Galway Bay Irish Pub on Point Brown Avenue with a rally that included Mayor Crystal Dingler and City Councilwoman Holly Plackett and City Council candidate Susan Conniry among those attending. It ended at North Beach Community TV station at 823 Anchor Ave. Organizers say the march was a “way to honor the strength, resilience, and determination of women and community members who have been marginalized by the recent election.”

“Think about all the women and men who worked to get us to this point who didn’t make it from way back when,” Shannon Vandenbush said in addressing the crowd at the end. “Some of them would have loved to be here today and they are not here. … This is what it’s all about.”

While some in the march decried the inauguration of Donald Trump, Ocean Shores resident Joanie Arnold said the march was not about the president.

“This is nothing to do with Trump, it has to do with our wonderful little town here,” said Arnold, who has started a petition to declare how friendly and welcoming Ocean Shores is. “I moved here from California and I have been overwhelmed by the friendliness of everybody in this whole town. This is a time when friendliness and acceptance and being assailed at the highest levels.”

In comments taped for North Beach Community TV, Marlene Penry of Ocean Shores said she was marching for “equality for everybody. Solidarity for all of us. Diversity has to be embraced. I am marching because I refuse to stand quietly and watch all of the women’s rights, civil rights, human rights, and environmental rights — that I have been fighting for for 40 years — just simply erode and go away.”

Richard Wills, who moved to Ocean Shores last year, said he marched because he was “fed up with the Republican and the Trump cronyism, exploiting and suppressing our human rights in this country. Trump won the election on fraud and collusion, and his whole party is about exploiting human rights and employment rights.”

A number of the participants came from elsewhere in Grays Harbor, including Steven Puvogel, chairman of the Grays Harbor Democrats. Puvogel said he was “really nervous” post-election. “I’m nervous and angry but optimistic that we can fight for what’s right,” he said.

“Trump is trying to take us all back to the 1950s,” Paula Swain of Ocean Shores Trudi. “My sister and I are here for our six granddaughters and daughter-in-law.”

Plackett called the past election an “earthquake election” that caused her to reflect: “We really have to get the word out about inclusion. We have to remember to talk to everybody in our community.”

Marching is a way to demonstrate “we can still sand up and hear our voices and then extend that so others stand up and hear their voices as well,” Plackett added.

Conniry noted she had been a civic and community activist most of her life: “I believe we need more women to step forward and be participants in government. I think what’s just happened in this last election proves me right. I am running for City Council in Ocean Shores and I hope there are many other women who are here today that will consider doing the same.”

Women’s March draws diverse crowd in Ocean Shores