The mystical among us

Pirates, samurai, wizards, Muggles and magic abound on the Island.

Kendo warriors create pageantry Wednesday and Thursday evenings at the Community Center at Mecerview (CCMV). As many as 20 samurai in dark hoods and long skirts wield bamboo sticks and shout “huzzahs” as they strike.

Classmates solemnly watch the swordsmen demonstrate in barefeet, gloves and masks. Men and women ages 8 to 79 learn the “Budo” — a tradition of mental discipline and physical grace. Instructor Gary Imanishi, who graduated from Mercer Island High School in 1973, brought Cascade Kendo Kai to Mercer Island in 1990.

Who would think that a martial art could cultivate mercy compassion, righteousness, etiquette intelligence and loyalty? Join the millions worldwide who practice Kendo, urged Imanishi.

A midnight magic party is brewing a month from now on the Island — as they are elsewhere around the world — to celebrate the release of the final Harry Potter book in the series written by J.K. Rowling. Friday, July 20, from 9 p.m. until just after midnight, Mercer Island Parks and Recreation, Friends of the Library, Rotary and Island books will sponsor the event at the CCMV. Hundreds of costumed witches, wizards and Muggles of all ages are expected for the roll out of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” Until the witching hour, there will be a Wizards Rock Band —FIX THIS — a showing of the last Harry Potter film, trips down Diagon Alley, Quidditch matches, games prizes, crafts, contests, food and drinks, and lots of volunteer chaperones and parking attendants.

Roger Page, owner of Island Books, said hundreds of copies have already been pre-sold or reserved at his store. He believes he will sell more than 1,000 by summer’s end. The sooner one reserves, the closer to the front of the line one can be when the books are handed out at 12:01 a.m. on July 21, he said.

This will be the third such part where Harry Potter fans can rally to gain their final 784 pages of intrigue. Roger guesses many kids will read non-stop and finish the book within a day or two.

Seth Landau salute: A belated Father’s Day tribute to the Island Security System guy, also a Harry Potter fan, who sports of head of Hagrid-like hair. He’s as much an individualist as the Hogwarts’ giant and has this magical tale of a cross-continental fatherhood:

“Kristi and I never had children by birth, yet we have as good a son as anyone could want in Kenya. John Ouko Silas has graduated from law school, is finishing a masters degree in law and was elected to the second-highest position in Kenya’s National Youth party,” Landau said.

“We met him 13 years ago when we were on an African safari and went fishing for perch near Mfanagano Island. On the beach a small boy approached and asked to try on my sunglasses. He did and then asked me if I would pay for his school. I gave him a business card and told him if he wrote me a letter and asked me, I would.

“A month and a half later, I got the letter. John had lost his mother as a young boy and three of his five brothers and sisters to disease. We paid to bury them. His dad is an old man on Mfanagano Island.

“John calls me his American dad and I think of him as my son. We speak or e-mail daily. John visited us a few months ago and we shared him with our friends and family. We feel very proud and lucky. This was a great Father’s Day for me,” said Landau.

The pirates are coming: Keep an eye open for pirates on the Island, particularly on Fridays. Mercer Island Parks and Recreation is preparing for a “total pirate invasion” July 14 and 1 5 as a part of Summer Celebration! The dozens of swashbucklers will “deliver more mayhem than every before” at the arts and crafts booths, teen battle of the bands, at the parade, fireworks, food booths, classic car show, inflatable rides for kids, boat rides and the Rotary pancake breakfast.

Now you see it , now you don’t — the grass at city hall. In early June, the old turf was removed and re-landscaped within days. The cost of turf removal, ground prep, new topsoil, hydro-seeding and renovating the irrigation system and labor were $10,000. The city expects savings in water usage and maintenance to pay for the new turf within a few years.

Mary Olson, of the city maintenance department said the 4-inch turf and thatch were so deep, the grass became diseased and irrigation couldn’t penetrate. Normal thatching aerating and fertilizing couldn’t keep it health and the soil was just worn out. The old colonial bentgrass required more water than the new rye variety. A beautiful lawn is expected within weeks.

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at

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