It’s Opening Day, boaters!

Mark your calendars, folks! May 6th. Put a big red circle around it. Fill it with stars and smiley faces. Because, my friends, that is Opening Day of the boating season!

Sponsored by Seattle Yacht Club, Opening Day festivities include parades and races and parties, oh my! The Opening Day Parade starts at noon on Saturday, May 6 with the boom of a cannon and the opening of the Montlake Bridge.

If you aren’t a boat owner or you don’t want to take your boat out on Opening Day, you can have plenty of fun hanging out on the shore with a blanket and a picnic basket. Take you family out and enjoy what Weather.com tells me is going be a beautiful day.

According to a longtime Seattle Yacht Club member, the first ever Opening Day celebration—complete with a parade and a regatta—took place in May 1913 on Elliott Bay. Seven years later, in 1920, the festivities were relocated to Portage Bay (with the parade routing through the Montlake Cut) because Seattle Yacht Club moved to their present facilities.

The Opening Day celebration remained strong, even through World War II. Opening Day 1946 was the largest and most festive event to that day. Participants joined from every yacht club in the Puget Sound and the Royal Vancouver and Royal Victoria Yacht Clubs from BC came down to party with the Pacific Northwesterners.

A theme was first used in 1959 and was “Hell’s a Poppin.” Over the years, the events have grown and changed. Crew races became part of the Opening Day action, and, in 1987, the Windermere Cup was introduced. Now people line the Montlake Cut every first Saturday in May to watch our Huskies row until their arms fall off.

In present day, Seattle Yacht Club’s Opening Day is the nation’s largest regional celebration of water, spring, and the beginning of the boating season (although does boating season ever really end?). All participating yachts will be decorated to go with this year’s theme, “Emerald City Aahs.” What in the world is an Emerald City Aah, you may ask. Well, from what I could gather, it is open to interpretation. What in this city (or region) makes you say “ahh?” Is it the lush green tapestry of landscapes we get to enjoy? Is it the big city atmosphere? Is it the water that surrounds us? Perhaps it is the delicious food or coffee we are fortunate enough to partake in. Whatever you love about your home is the perfect “Emerald City Aah.”

The parade begins in Portage Bay and ends with the awards ceremony at 6pm at the Seattle Yacht Club. Prizes are awarded for Classic Sail and Classic Power, Dressed Sail and Dressed Power, Wilson Seamanship, Spinnaker, Youth Sponsored Decorated, Sponsored Decorated, Decorated Sail and Decorated Power, Novelty Decorated, Spirit, Decorated Commercial, Working Boats, and Fireboat. Click here for more information.

The commissioning ceremony on the Seattle Yacht Club lawn is attended by the Commodores of participating yacht clubs and starts off the Opening Day festivities. The clubs’ burgees are hoisted, dignitaries are recognized, the Chaplin says a prayer, and the band plays!

We hope you have a safe and enjoyable Opening Day and boating season!