Mother Nature rains on parade, not spirit

POULSBO — As if on cue, the heavens opened up just as the first Harley Davidson rolled down Front Street to kick off the 35th Viking Fest parade.

About two hours later, the parade had ended and blue sky and innocent looking puffy, white clouds took over.

“It’s pretty amazing that it rained only on the parade,” said Viking Fest publicity director Michael Svardh with a laugh Monday. Svardh was one of three announcers at the parade, and said while the dampness wreaked havoc on some of their technology, he enjoyed seeing that everyone was still in high spirits.

Weather played a major role in the weekend, but apparently not in its success or failure.

Friday experienced both rain and pea-sized hail just before opening ceremonies, Saturday was cold with occasional showers and Sunday the sun showed bright. But the crowds were even all three days, and organizers have dubbed the 2003 event a success.

“It was just steady. It wasn’t overcrowded and it wasn’t undercrowded,” said Viking Fest Corporation CEO Gary Jones.

“Despite the weather, the initial indication is that it was one of the more successful Viking Fests,” commented Viking Fest Corporation member Ron Krell.

Although crowds may not have met the 40,000 mark, Jones said he was comfortable guesstimating that there were at least 20,000-25,000 attendees at Viking Fest.

One early indication of the festival’s attendance has come from local vendors and non-profits, who have all reported strong sales. The Viking Burger stand sold one more case of hamburgers than in 2002, which the Viking Fest Corporation considers the most successful year. As of Sunday night, Paradise Amusements had done as much business as the year previous and the Poulsbo Noon Lions are calling this year’s pancake breakfast one of the best ever.

The City of Poulsbo is also breathing a sigh of relief, noting that lane constriction from the Lindvig Bridge project appeared to have no affect on the crowds.

Downtown merchants had worried that starting the project just two days before Viking Fest opened would cause major traffic delays downtown and drive visitors away.

However, City Engineer John Stephenson, Mayor Donna Jean Bruce and council members all noted Monday that traffic had moved very smoothly all weekend and there had been no complaints from the police department over detour routes.

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