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Originally published Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Saturday's Opening Day boat parade and related events

Saturday, May 2, is Opening Day of boating season in Seattle, with the traditional parade of yachts.

If you're new to Puget Sound and you hear about Opening Day of boating season, you might wonder why boating is closed the rest of the year.

Truth be told, it's not like hunting or fishing season; no boating cop will haul you to the pokey for setting sail between October and May. But it's cold and rainy in winter and, come May, the warming breezes are something to celebrate in our watery world. Since 1920, Seattle Yacht Club has led the charge with an annual "official" Opening Day boat parade through Montlake Cut.

This year's parade starts at noon Saturday, with 263 boats registered, from sleek megayachts to the saltiest Northwest classics.

The parade theme is "Wild Wild West," with many boats to be decorated accordingly. Fire boats will spray water, and yachts carrying bands from the University of Washington and Washington State University set the musical tempo for the day.

It's a free event for spectators, with rowing teams competing in Windermere Cup crew races from east to west in the Cut preceding the boat parade.

If you go by car, bus, bike or foot, you may watch from the shores of the Cut. Parking is available at nearby University of Washington lots. Note that Montlake Bridge closes to auto traffic between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

If you go by boat, volunteers for the Seattle Yacht Club hope to have log booms for moorage in place on the east end of Montlake Cut today. Moorage is free — first come, first served. Reserving multiple spaces is discouraged; courtesy is encouraged.

If you'd rather be part of the parade, book passage on Argosy Cruises' Spirit of Seattle with KWJZ radio and jazzman Michael Powers and his band, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; $65 with lunch (www.argosycruises.com or 800-642-7816). Or ride aboard the steamship Virginia V, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; $95 with lunch and live band (www.virginiav.org or 206-624-9119).

This year's Windermere Cup pits University of Washington varsity rowers against men's and women's teams of the Brazilian Rowing Federation; the Oregon State University men's team, and the University of Miami women's team. Crew races start at 10:20 a.m.

Saturday's schedule

8 a.m. — Parade boats assemble in Portage Bay.

8:45 a.m. — U.S. Navy Band concert on the lawn at Seattle Yacht Club, 1807 E. Hamlin St.

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9 a.m. — Commissioning ceremony, SYC lawn.

9:40 a.m. — Parade course closed to boats.

9:50 a.m. — Official VIP boats parade to moorage.

10 a.m. — Montlake Bridge closed to auto traffic.

10:05 a.m. — Dragon Boat exhibition race.

10:20 a.m. — First crew race begins.

11:30 a.m. — Last crew race begins.

11:45 a.m. — Crew competitors parade back through Montlake Cut.

Noon: Opening Day boat parade begins.

2:30 p.m. (approximate) — Parade ends.

3 p.m. (approximate) — Montlake Cut reopens to all boat traffic.

4 p.m. — Montlake Bridge reopens to autos.

4:30 p.m. — Army Drill Platoon, SYC lawn.

6 p.m. — Trophy presentations, SYC lawn.

6:30 p.m. — Closing ceremony, lowering of colors.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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