Seafair weekend means party time

Seafair’s thunder boats and buzz-bombers create a cacophony around the Island tomorrow through Sunday, Aug. 5, during hydro time trials and race day and U.S. Navy Blue Angels’ practices and performances.

Thousands of Seafair-goers are expected to crowd the east Seattle side of the Island. The best viewing places are the I-90 lid park, West Mercer Way off-ramp when the bridge closes Thursday, Aug. 2, from 9:45 a.m.-noon, and 1:15 pm - 2:30 p.m.; Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12:45 to 2:40 p.m. Since the westbound ramp is a construction zone, viewers are urged to be cautious and stay away from barricaded or coned spaces.

Other choice spots are Groveland Beach, Slater Park/Proctor Landing and other First Hill Park areas. Boaters and 121 Huskies on Seafair's exclusive Party Barge will watch the air show and qualifying hydro round 40 feet off shore Friday, Aug. 3, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and other VIPS get the party barge on race day.

If you’re considering a block party, the city reminds us that permits are required for any street activity.

Also, for the fourth year, the Washington State Patrol will bring a Mobile DUI unit to Mercer Island during Seafair. Dave Jokinen, operations commander for Mercer Island Police, said last year, with joint efforts of the Washington State Patrol, Mercer Island Marine Patrol, Seattle Harbor Patrol, King County Marine Unit and the U.S. Coast Guard, 131 people were arrested for boating under the influence, and 60 were arrested for minor in possession of alcohol. This emphasis helps quell serious boating accidents or injuries.

The Mariner’s losing streak last week became bearable while sitting next to the ultimate baseball fan Walter Witt, a longtime resident of Mercer Island’s East Seattle neighborhood.

He makes his own baseball history, carefully filling in every play on his box score and using his binoculars to detail the plays. He said by the end of this season, he will have attended 2,000 Mariners games, celebrating the team’s 30th anniversary.

Not long ago he gathered up all his box scores and ticket stubs and sold them to a dealer, making enough money to buy himself a season ticket in a box seat at Safeco Field.

His most memorable game in the King Dome (1976 to 2000) was Oct. 8, 1995, when the Mariners thumped the New York Yankees 6-5 in 11 innings. Ken Griffey, Jr,. scored the winning run in the 11th, also winning Witt’s golden memory moment in baseball.

His favorite players through the years are Junior, Ichiro Suzuki, Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, Alvin Davis and Dan Wilson. He also followed the Rainiers, Angels and Pilots in Sick’s Stadium (1938 to 1969), where he saw legendary Fred Hutchinson play his first year in 1939.

You gotta love Walt, too.

Bob Brahm, post commander of Mercer Island’s VFW Post 5760, tells us the historic hall across from the Roanoke Inn has had a facelift and is ready for party rentals. An original hardwood floor was restored to dance-floor gleam, the entry was carpeted, the new sound system rocks, and the refurbished fireplace has become the post’s “pride and joy.”

Already, the refreshed hall has held a wedding reception, and a send-off for Melanie Andrea, who’s being redeployed to her second tour in Iraq. She and her husband of three years, Steve Andrea, met in the Army at Ft. Lewis. He grew up in Bellevue, she in Memphis, Tenn. The two served together for 12 months in Mosul, Iraq, in the Signal Corps.

“Let’s Dance” uses the hall five times a year for its dinner-dances. “Our group of 45 couples was started by members of the Mercer Island Rotary in 1989,” said JoAnn Zsitvay. Great live music and the VFW Hall setting really jive. New members welcome, said Zsitvay. Contact her at 232-8211 to join in.

Grooming will continue throughout the year, says Brahm. Its flavor always will remain “quaint and historic,” he adds, to honor its beginnings as the Keewaydin Club, constructed in 1922 by neighbors as a social and civic meeting place.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post purchased the hall in 1966, and it was listed on the National Historic Register and the Washington Heritage Register in 2005.

A different kind of fun flourishes at our local pea patch behind the Community Center at Mercer view. Residents have produced riotous sunflowers, dahlias, nasturtiums, cosmos, lupines, calendulas, zinnias, marigolds, daisies, roses and hollyhocks. The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye, and the pole beans, berries and proverbial zucchini are bearing.

One watering can urges “Grow, Pumpkins Grow!” A new wooden bench honors the late Ed Vierling, who “loved his family, community and garden.” Girl Scout Troop 1069 has built and decorated a potting shed. Composting bins have also been constructed.

Last Friday evening, with a backdrop of the pea patch was an idyllic setting to watch the moon rise over the lake. How fortunate that we set aside this acreage as a communal sanctuary when we did, as houses now rim the entire parcel.

P.S. — Would anyone who took the late Virginia Nygren’s handwriting analysis classes, please contact me, for a future item in Around the Island?

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at

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