by MaryRose Denton
The sky over the Capitol building darkens as the first stars twinkle against the backdrop of midnight blue. The moon rises in the evening sky. It is a waxing moon tonight, almost full, heavy and bright on this chilly night. It hangs low on the horizon, slowly becoming brighter with each passing moment, as if it wishes to join the crowd forming outside 4th and Water street at the Procession Art Studio.
As it shines against the blackening night, it’s as if the moon itself is a luminary in this Procession, gathered to celebrate the Earth she shines down on, and all its species.
This is my first Procession of the Species. My son, along with many, many other artists and volunteers have been working on various art projects for the past seven weeks, culminating in this community celebration of culture and our natural world.
Inside the Art studio they are creating one-of-a-kind costumes, props, and luminaries to be displayed during this annual celebration. It is a place family and community members create art for the event. For some it represents a place of escape, much like a walk in nature can offer.
Just like with the seasons or an annual migration of birds, the community of Olympia, WA can look forward to this lively and festive parade of art every April. Now in its 25th year, the Procession of the Species continues to spread good will, bringing the community together for a greater cause, one of appreciation and preservation of the natural world.
The Earth day theme this year is “Protect the Species” for all living things have intrinsic value. The Procession echo’s this message, bringing attention to concerns and plights our world is facing through art and choosing to honor its splendor with song, dance, and a very large street party! It is a call to action. It is also the sound of hope.
My son hands me a luminary to carry, a sparkling design of a fish which I let swim through the air as we begin our walk through downtown Olympia. I am swept up in this joyous party of music and dance as we process forward as a collective, as one.
I hear someone around me say, “We are here to stay”. Maybe they are talking about the threatened species of our planet, maybe they are talking about the voice of activism or maybe they mean the Procession itself. For it has become its own institution, an identity of celebration and inclusion. By the very name “Procession” refers to taking part in something bigger than yourself, an act of progressing forward.
The Procession of the Species coincides with the Olympia Arts Walk which showcases over 100 different artists in over 100 different downtown businesses. Meander through to experience the visual, digital, and graphic creations of the Olympia Art Scene.
See you in Oly!!!!