Chris Olson

Chris Olson

She’s back: The ferry from Anacortes returns with pomp Sunday

Party marks re-signing of lease with Washington State Ferries

The annual fast and furious party for the Ferry Between Friends will start with the arrival of the first boat of the season Sunday.

“It’s a short and sweet event,” said Chris Olson of Flair Hospitality which manages the Sidney international ferry terminal. “It’s a meet and greet between the two sides.”

The first ferry of the season will dock at 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 25 followed by a 40 minute party with pipes, town criers, RCMP in serge and words from the mayors of the three communities where the Washington State Ferry stops.

“We encourage [fanfare]. The ferry comes in at 11:10. Usually by 11:40 they have to return through customs,” Olson said. “The more people the better because it just shows Canadian pride.”

The Sidney-Anacortes ferry route has an annual closure for 12 weeks as a cost saving measure. This year will mark the ninth annual opening day celebration with the Town of Sidney, local citizens and many people from Anacortes and area. Mayors from the Town of Sidney and Anacortes exchange celebratory words and town criers from both sides of the border make their proclamations.

This year there will also be a ceremonial signing of the 20-year lease between the Town of Sidney and Washington State ferries for the Anacortes-Sidney route that celebrates 80 years this year. The route has been under threat of cancellation in recent years due to state funding cuts. Last year, ridership was up 10 per cent from the season before.

“It brings a lot of tourists to our region, both sides,” Olson said. And it’s not just from Anacortes, but the islands between as well, due to the stop on San Juan. “In the summer probably 20 per cent of our business comes from Friday Harbour,” he said.

The ninth annual Ferry Between Friends opening day starts around 11 a.m. Sunday to kick the Anacortes ferry route back into gear.