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Memorial Day in Whatcom County

The Whatcom County Memorial Day Parade returns after two years

A Naval honor guard marches at the head of the Whatcom Memorial Day Parade in Bellingham, Wash. on May 28. Though commemorating Memorial Day, the parade was held the Saturday before the federal holiday, due to a quirk of its history. // Photo by Troy Schulz

Whatcom County’s annual community Memorial Day parade returned to Bellingham on May 28, with several thousand attendees turning out from as far as the Seattle area.

“We’re very excited to return after the pandemic and lockdown,” Marie Dahl, the parade director, said. “It’s good to get out and smile, create an event that brings people closer together after two-and-a-half years.”

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Representatives of the Northwest Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce march in the Memorial Day Parade on May 28. The organization is headquartered in Ferndale, Wash. // Photo by Troy Schulz

Though commemorating Memorial Day, the parade is held the Saturday before the federal holiday, due to a quirk of its history.

The 2022 parade comprised some 45 entrants, totaling around 1,300 people, primarily from Whatcom and Skagit Counties, according to Dahl.

“This year’s a very lean parade,” said Betty McMaster, an organizer for the event. “[Pre-pandemic] we had around 120 entrants.”

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Local residents watch the passing Memorial Day Parade on May 28. The parade included representatives from local emergency services among others. // Photo by Troy Schulz

Entrants in the parade included schools, businesses, local government agencies, civic and veterans’ organizations and political candidates. The Grand Marshals of the event were Bellingham interim Police Chief Flo Simon and Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo.

“[This year] is as much about commemorating law enforcement as our military, and their commitment to our community,” Dahl said, citing the Blaine Police Department’s swift response to a shooting threat on May 25. Blaine Police Chief Donnell Tanksley, formerly of the Western Washington University Police, was present at the event.

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Western Washington University students march in the Memorial Day Parade on May 28. // Photo by Troy Schulz

“It’s the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work, making sure every T is crossed and every I is dotted, that every entry is staged and every judge knows where to go,” Dahl said in the hectic final hour before the parade began.

Participants in the afternoon’s festivities included seven scholastic bands from as far as Bellevue and Everett, American Legion Posts 7 and 43, Whatcom County emergency services, the Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Kitsap Peninsula Shrine Club, Western Washington University, Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood and Washington state Senator Simon Sefzik (WA-42).

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The Bellingham High School Marching Band marches in the Memorial Day Parade on May 28. The band was one of several scholastic bands present at the event. // Photo by Troy Schulz

Troy Schulz

Troy Schulz (he/him) is a city news reporter at The Front. He studies news/editorial journalism. He has previously written for Zenger News and WhatCulture

He can be reached at

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