Saturday’s Tacoma Maritime Fest was a chance for people to reconnect with the city’s waterfront.
The 24th annual festival marked a special occasion this year: cleanup of the Thea Foss Waterway, completed 10 years ago.
Emily and Sean Gaugler were there, watching as their kids, 4-year-old Kaiya and 2-year-old Fiona, took part in a time-honored Maritime Fest tradition: floating toy boats in a big pool. The family has been coming to Maritime Fest since Kaiya was born.
Emily grew up on the water, watching her dad Paul Birkey build his business creating custom yacht interiors. He went on to found Tacoma Community Boat Builders, which links kids and mentors in boat-building ventures. During the Maritime Fest, TCBB is sponsoring a family and team event to help build a boat during the two days of the festival, which continues Sunday.
Emily Gaugler remembers a time when the city’s waterfront was more grit and less family fun.
“It’s a different Tacoma than it used to be,” she said. “There’s a lot more for families to do. I’m amazed at how many people pitch in to make things happen. It’s cool to see Tacoma make this transformation.”
Elizabeth Kan was enjoying her first Maritime Fest with daughter Faith Kan-Satcher, 4, who was painting at a kids booth.
It’s a different Tacoma than it used to be
“I like that it’s a family thing,” she said.
Nearby, artist Glory Cancro oversaw a community-created mural, painted on a sail. All day, festival-goers were invited to paint a design that the Bonney Lake artist created. The design featured a mermaid overseeing a watery world. In the background are Tacoma landmarks. Cancro said she created the design in the style of vintage maritime tattoos.
On Sunday, she’ll be doing touch-up work on the sail. When it’s completed, it will hang in the Foss Waterway Seaport Museum.
Strolling the festival on stilts was Rhys Thomas, a Portland juggler and puppeteer with a business called Jugglemania. He was accompanied by a marionette he created especially for the Maritime Fest, named Captain Plankton.
Siblings Lydia and Sebastian Lopez were happy to meet the captain and shake hands. Their mom, Melanie Lopez, said it was her family’s second time at the festival.
“We built boats, took a cruise on a yacht, went to the museum and learned how to keep litter out of the water,” she said. “There is a lot for kids to do and learn about. It’s nice that people are down here.”
Tacoma Maritime Fest
The festival continues 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at the Foss Waterway Seaport, 705 Dock St., Tacoma.
A free yellow shuttle bus will run from the Tacoma Dome Bus Station at Puyallup Avenue and G Street to the festival. The shuttle will also stop at several self-pay parking lots on Dock Street.
More information: tacomamaritimefest.org.