Photo depicting the Blue Angels flighting over the Seattle skyline.

We Asked, You Answered: Sound Off on Seafair Poll Results

This is what the South End really thinks about Seafair.

by Mark Van Streefkerk

If you live in the South End, you’ve most likely heard the roar of the Blue Angels F/A-18 Super Hornets by now, just in case you forgot that Seafair is upon us. The 74th annual multi-week event encompasses a variety of neighborhood celebrations — like the Torchlight Parade and the Seafair pirates landing at Alki Beach — culminating in Seafair weekend August 4–6, featuring a Blue Angels air show every evening and hydroplane races at Genesee Park and Lake Washington.

A couple of weeks ago we asked what you thought of Seafair, what you would change about it, and what you’d like its organizers to know. If you want to skip right to the (anonymous) responses, click here. Note that the Emerald has not fact-checked or edited any responses. For a summary, keep reading.

“I hate Seafair”

Over half of your responses (about 45) fell under the general “I hate it” category, with the main reasons for disliking Seafair being the Blue Angels, noise pollution, the environmental toll of parading gas-guzzling jets over a captive audience (for multiple days), the glorification of the military, and the disruption and distress it brings to animals and humans, including those with PTSD and anxiety.

One person said, “The air show is outdated. It’s harmful and disturbing to local ecosystems, people with mental illness, refugees and pets. Every year I dread it!”

Aerial photo depicting the Blue Angels performing with exhaust over city landscape.
The United States Navy Blue Angels during a 2019 air show. (Photo courtesy of the United States Navy Blue Angels. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.)

Another person said, “I’m not really sure what the point of Seafair is? It seems like a hyper militaristic thing with a lot of disruptive noise and trash. If what we are celebrating is summer and the community I feel like the are many ways to do this. The loud planes are not appreciated by this resident, her family and her pets.”

And another: “It’s awful and atrocious, given the climate crisis we’re in and how much carbon dioxide pollution both the air show and the hydroplanes emit. And the Blue Angels and the air show glorify the destructive weaponry of our military, which I strongly oppose.”

“Some parts are okay, but …”

Another portion of responses (around 25) were mixed, with people saying they had some fond memories of Seafair, or liked certain parts, but could do without the Blue Angels. Some said it was an outdated celebration that was out of touch with communities it directly impacted the most — the densely populated and diverse South Seattle neighborhoods.

One person said, “The concept of Seafair needs to pivot with the times. The air shows and boat races need to end; they do not align with a city that is thinking forward on climate. The planes emit a massive amount of carbon emissions plus smaller particulate matter that decrease air quality for us. Many south Seattle neighbors already have poor air quality due to being in the flight path of the airport/airfield; we all suffer from the exposure to the leaded aviation fuel. It’s time for change.”

Vintage photo depicting a red hydroplane streaking across Lake Washington as swimmers and spectators gather along the shore.
A hydroplane on Lake Washington during Seafair in the 1950s. (Photo courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, 193493.)

Someone said, “De-militarize SeaFair. Instead, make it a SeaFair that celebrates regional cultural traditions, the sea, and a future free of fossil fuels and war.”

Someone else said, “Any profits accrued from the boat races should share a portion to SE Seattle communities, such as food banks, pea patches and youth cultural groups.”

A few people suggested a transition to carbon-neutral racing, or to celebrating green energy.

“I love Seafair.”

The smallest number of responses (eight) said they loved it, and had almost no objections to Seafair. There were some minor quibbles, like the prices of tickets, noisy spectators, and traffic woes.

“I love it. The Blue Angels, Pirate landing at Alki and community festivals are my favorites. Growing up in South Seattle, it has always been a highlight of summer,” said one person.

Someone else said, “A great annual tradition — many festivals in one.”

Read all of the responses we received at this link here. The Emerald has reprinted each response in its entirety and anonymously.

The South Seattle Emerald is committed to holding space for a variety of viewpoints within our community, with the understanding that differing perspectives do not negate mutual respect amongst community members.

The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed by the contributors on this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the Emerald or official policies of the Emerald.

Mark Van Streefkerk is a South Seattle-based journalist, freelance writer, and the Emerald’s Arts, Culture, & Community editor. He often writes about restaurants, LGBTQ+ topics, and more. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter at @VanStreefkerk.

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