The Procession of the Species comes to life this week in Olympia, Washington!
In my novel The Eagle Tree, my narrator March Wong experiences a wonderful parade entitled the Procession of the Species that showcases many different types of animals and plants. I’ve received many questions from readers about this event, and I’m happy to confirm that YES, the Procession of the Species is a real event!
Readers in the Olympia area know that the Procession of the Species has taken place for two decades in the area, and many children and families have participated for many years in creating new costumes that represent the wide variety of flora and fauna that we can see around the world. My own children have even created costumes for this unique parade, and for years we have loved attending and seeing the creativity of the many Olympia people who create their own unique costumes year after year.
The Procession of the Species has been led by a local community team for many years. You can find out more right here at the Procession website. The Procession is such a unique and wonderful experience that it has been replicated around the world in many other cities and locations, from Portland to Seattle to Maine and Vermont.
Here’s a great set of pictures from the Procession of the Species — taken by Shanna Paxton, the photographer for the local publication OLY ARTS,* who created a photo essay about the Procession last year. I’ve included many of her photos here, so you too can experience the wonder and glory of the Procession of the Species.
In the novel The Eagle Tree, March finds in the Olympia community a welcoming environment for his fascination with trees and natural ecosystems. Olympia is a community that works to be highly aware and engaged with the natural world, and tries hard to support the health of natural ecosystems. This is a large part of the reason that I placed my story in Olympia: March’s voice would be heard in this community in a manner that is much more supported than in other communities who are not as connected to the natural world.
In the novel The Eagle Tree, the Procession of the Species creates a bridge of experience between March’s own interior descriptions of ecosystems and the rest of the world’s experience of those ecosystems. March’s experience of the Procession is immersive and leads to his decision to finally climb The Eagle Tree.
The Procession of the Species exists to empower communities to engage in cultural relationships with the natural world as a means of sustaining efforts of environmental protection and restoration. That’s their mission. Also, the Procession of the Species has a unique set of rules which inspire, nourish, and protect the Procession’s cultural evolution of imagination, creation, and sharing. Here are the only rules they have:
- No written or spoken words. We use no words, symbols or lyrics in our art, music or dance.
- No pets or live animals. We have no live animals in the Procession, with the exception of Service Animals.
- No motorized vehicles. We do not motorize our creations which includes the use of musical amplification. Of course, a motorized wheelchair is certainly permitted.
These rules make the Procession of the Species entirely human-powered, human-created, yet devoid of slogans, signs or other words. The Procession of the Species thus becomes an experiential parade of animal and plant life, where the focus is on the creativity of our own community members and the wonder and glory of the natural world that exists all around us. March Wong would be right at home in the middle of the Procession of the Species.
* Full disclosure: I used the royalties from my bestselling novel The Eagle Tree to found the publication OLY ARTS, and it’s been a surprising success in the Olympia region!
You can read more about OLY ARTS on the publication’s website and listen to Olympia-based podcasts, download Oly Arts mobile apps and read in print and online all about Olympia’s vibrant arts scene.