Signaling the start of Sandcastle Weekend, the Friday, June 19, parade boasted clowns, mermaids, Boy Scouts and more. Garnering hundreds of spectators, children and adults alike lined the curbs and sidewalks of Hemlock Street, reveling in the rare spectacle.
“Nobody really knew that we were doing it last year,” Sandcastle Contest Chairwoman Debbie Nelson said. “This year there were so many people lined up waiting for us. So that was very fun.” Nelson resurrected the parade in 2014.
Participants came from Cannon Beach and beyond, including Seaside’s Boy Scout Troop 642, the Oregon Mermaids, the Haystack Rock Awareness Program and more.
Wearing loud face paint, colorful, ill-fitting attire and devilish grins, the Astoria Clowns were a fan favorite. Atop minibikes and piloting a wildly painted wagon, complete with sirens and a pipe-organist in tow, the storied group swerved through the streets and into the crowd, sharing hugs and high-fives along the way.
“The clowns, they’re crazy!” Dana Jones, who brought her two children from Seaside for the parade, said. Jones too enjoyed the oddity. “It’s kind of fun to see a bunch of old men riding around on bicycles,” she said.
“We do a number of different parades,” said clown Chuck Westerlund (aka “Swiggy”). “Some are huge. This is rather small, but it’s good for the town.”
Regardless of size, Westerlund added, the joy of clowning is simple: “Just seeing the smiles on the young children, saying ‘Mr. Clown! Mr. Clown! Can I have a hug?’ Stuff like that is cool.”
Floats from local businesses were on hand as well, including Coaster Construction, pulling a replica sandcastle, and the Chocolate Cafe, whose marchers passed out samples from a tiny yellow van.
The procession also made room for nonprofit groups like the campaign for a new charter school, the Cannon Beach Farmers Market, whose sign reminded attendees to “make half your plate fruits and vegetables,” and the Coaster Theatre, promoting their production of “Little Shop of Horrors” with bright set-pieces.
The parade’s long tail was comprised of local servicemen and women, including fire trucks, medical vehicles and Gunner the police dog. Their inclusion was fitting, as the event was organized in large part by Cannon Beach Police Chief Jason Schermerhorn.
In its second year back, the parade seemed to have grown.
“Last year it took us 20 minutes to go through,” Nelson said. “This year it took about a half-hour. So a few more people got on the bandwagon and said ‘Hey, I want to be involved too!’”
“There used to be only the sandcastle build on Saturday morning,” Nelson added. “We’ve now created a three-day, six-event weekend. This kicks off the entire weekend.”
After the parade, visitors were encouraged to attend a dinner at the Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s very much a success,” Nelson said of the parade. “I just love seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces as you go through town.”