With a little pomp and ceremony, passengers aboard the MV Chelan were greeted by enthusiastic ferry-watchers in Sidney, as the vessel made its inaugural run this season.
Members of Peninsula Sister Cities Association, local municipal officials, a Mountie and Sidney’s Town Crier met the Washington State Ferries (WSF) vessel on Sun., April 1. The ferry service had been on its usual winter hiatus and, as they do each year, the Association organized a fun ‘welcome back’ event — not only to foster good relations between Sidney and its sister city Anacortes, Washington, but to help ensure the ferry service stays afloat.
Association President Sharon Stoneman says every year, they organize the welcome to let their neighbours know how much Sidney appreciates their support and service.
“We greet the people coming off. Some are coming for the day and some get right back on again. We have a party, the mayors make speeches and everyone re-affirms the relationship between the two towns. It is a very valuable relationship.”
She added the party started years ago when WSF had begun seriously pondering whether to keep the ferry run going.
“So, we made a point of making sure they understand how important it is to the people of Sidney.”
This is the 33rd season the ferry terminal has been operated by the Olson family. The ferry itself has been making the run since April, 1922.
Sidney Mayor Steve Price welcomed “friends and neighbours” from Anacortes, the San Juan Islands and Washington State Ferries back to the Saanich Peninsula.
“The ferry has become a link between our countries,” Price said, adding it also represents the friendship between the two communities.
Matt Miller, the Mayor Pro-Tem (acting mayor) of Anacortes, called the service an invaluable link and economic driver between the two communities.
“It’s a great connection between our sister cities,” he said, adding the relationship would not be the same without the ferry service.
John Vezina, Director of Government Relations for Washington State Ferries noted the San Juan Islands and the State share the Salish Sea with Sidney and the Peninsula, also recognizing the partnership. He said in 2017, more than 100,000 people took the trip on the Anacortes Ferry.