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Seize the Summer With These Seafair Traditions

Blog post authored by Nikki Torres Garcia, KCTS 9 Social Media Intern.

Pirates and clowns and Blue Angels—oh, my!

The thunderous roar of the Blue Angels has returned to Seattle and the fleet has settled into Elliott Bay, which can only mean one thing—it’s time for Seafair Weekend. This year marks the 66th anniversary of the largest festival in the Pacific Northwest. Thousands flock to Genesee Park each year to watch the hydroplanes dominate Lake Washington down below and witness the Blue Angels rocket through the sky up above. This year, Seafair Weekend begins on July 31 and runs through August 1. Events take place at locations throughout the area, so be sure to visit for all the details.

Cover those ears because it’s time for the hydroplane races!

One of the most anticipated events at Seafair is the hydroplane races. Hydroplanes are motorboats designed to be raced over the surface of water; they are extremely light and can reach speeds over 200 mph. Hydroplanes are loud—extremely loud—so ear protection is a good idea when watching a race. Modern hydroplanes are actually quieter than their predecessors, which has caused some people to complain that the boats aren’t as loud as they once were!

Hydroplane racing is right at home here in Washington state. Did you know that hydro driver Jimmy Shane is from Covington? Jimmy recently won the 2015 HAPO APBA Gold Cup in Kennewick—for the second year in a row.

Hydros at home? Why not?

Another beloved Seafair tradition that’s great for kids of all ages is the mini hydroplane races. Mini hydroplanes are toy boats, about a foot long, that can be decorated with paint, glitter, stickers—anything goes. The finished boats are attached to the back of a bike with a string, and then it’s time to race—or just cruise down the block and show off your mini boat to all your friends.

Did you know that hydroplanes are also known as “thunderboats” because of how loud they are? Here’s a tip for young designers: Attach some nuts and bolts to the bottom of your mini wooden hydroplane to make your boat really loud when you race it—just like the real ones in the water!

Bring on the Blues

The Blue Angels are back! The Boeing Seafair Air Show is so great that we don’t mind that the I-90 bridge is closed for a few hours this time of year. The Blue Angels have been part of Seafair Weekend since the event began 66 years ago—and some guests come to Seafair just to watch the Air Show.

The Blue Angels are elite military pilots who have volunteered to serve with the team. The team includes three tactical (fighter or fighter/attack) jet pilots, two support officers and—not to forget everyone’s favorite—one Marine Corps C-130 pilot, also known as “Fat Albert.”

Boom, there it is!

The Seafair logboom on Lake Washington is legendary as one of the biggest floating social hours in the Pacific Northwest. Seafair fans come from near and far to tie up their boats to anchored logs for a front-row view of the air show and the hydroplane races. Some boaters tie up early on the Friday of Seafair Weekend and devote the next three days to having fun with floating friends and family, cheer on their favorite hydroplane driver, and wave to the Blue Angels overhead. (If you look close enough, you might see them waving back at you!)

Seafair Weekend runs from July 31 through August 1, with events at Genesee Park and other locations throughout the Seattle area. Visit for more information.