A nice way to get wet!

Published on Thu, Jul 26, 2001 by Jack Kintner

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A nice way to get wet!

By Jack Kintner

As promised, rainbow maker Fred Stern successfully produced a vivid double rainbow at Peace Arch Park last Friday evening, July 20, and afterward said, “It was a great rainbow! It was so bright that from most vantage points it was doubled into two rainbows.”

Others in attendance agreed. “It was exactly what I came for! It was so beautiful! I was moved to tears!” said Spiral Barrett of Blaine shortly after the half-hour effect ended. The evening continued with the pops-style music of the North Cascades Concert Band, a group of 40 musicians led by conductor Lilburn Layer, including bass clarinetist Marge Reichhardt and oboe player Jake Hamburg, both of Blaine, as well as others from all over western Washington.

Earlier, festival organizer Christina Alexander opened the program by singing both the U.S. and Canadian national anthems a capella as well as Harold Arlen’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” backed up by the band.
The rainbow itself added a remarkable amount of energy to what had already become an enjoyable and placid warm summer evening in the park. The festival seemed to jump suddenly into life when fire district 13’s ladder truck #1341, boosted by the pump from engine #1361, began to pump a column of water almost 100 feet high into the air, precisely aimed by Stern’s calculations of direction, height and spray pattern. An audible gasp shot through the crowd as people got up and quickly walked, or even ran, toward the effect, reminiscent of Lindbergh’s 1927 landing in Paris. Not much awes people any more, especially in large groups, but this was truly an awesome sight, full of wonder and surprise, powerful and irresistible.

The bright rainbow towered over the park, gathering people from all over like a beacon, especially kids, as the water poured down and puddles began to form on the lawn. Some children did long baseball slides in the wet grass, other rode BMX bikes through the falling water. Many Canadians living on Zero Avenue in Douglas jumped the ditch and walked into the spray, and Point Roberts artist Evelyn Roth’s “Rainbow Dancers,” 13 women and children dressed in rainbow-colored capes, danced around and through the spectacle led by dancer Anna Materna.

The crowd grew to nearly 300 people as they shared this unique and beautiful experience in the bright, low-angle light of the setting sun. The apparent end of Stern’s rainbow was right on the lawn in the park, and as one drew closer to the wall of water being pumped into the air the brighter and more intense the rainbows became.

Half the growing crowd happily and willingly got wet walking into the spray, including Blaine mayor Dieter Schugt and festival organizer Christina Alexander, president of the sponsoring organization, the United States/Canada Peace Anniversary Association. It set the stage for a wonderful International Art Festival over the next two days, including much more music and the chance to speak directly with many of the artists about their work.

The weather failed to cooperate for Stern’s second attempt Saturday evening at Semiahmoo Marina, making Friday’s Peace Arch Park event the first and only time someone brought a live rainbow to the park for everyone to enjoy. .

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