Opinion

Whaling Days tries to be a community asset

GUEST COLUMN

We on the Whaling Days Board of Directors would like to thank the Central Kitsap community in advance for their support and patience next weekend. Although it is impossible to please everyone, our goal is to continue to provide a great family festival that fits in well with the surrounding community. As with most events in Kitsap, we sometimes are expanding so quickly with our population that we occasionally overlook the obvious. We will continue to try to provide for an ever-expanding festival and to work with everyone as much as possible. We have tried to work with businesses when we close roads by delaying the barriers, by asking festival vendors to wait a while longer to set up or by providing escorts for businesses and their equipment with small red-lighted vehicles that we provide. Anyone with concerns, please contact us at our Web site at www.whalingdays.com or e-mail info@whalingdays.com.

I would like to further respond to a comment that was made that the businesses in Old Town pay taxes and Whaling Days as a nonprofit pays very little. While it is true we pay very little business taxes, we are proud of the fact that we give back to the Kitsap community in a very big way. Whaling Days and our event partners give tens of thousands of dollars to local charities, civic organizations and local causes. We feel the following list of benefits paid back to the community by our all-volunteer board shows where our hearts are at.

• Thanks to the Rotary Club of Silverdale and their Great Kitsap Duck Race which has become a Whaling Days tradition, more than $82,000 was raised last year for local charities.

• The Whaling Days “Whale of a Run” has donated all proceeds to Hospice for 26 years and still running.

• Whaling Days contracts with the Boy Scouts for cleanup and litter control and thanks to them (and contrary to some opinions) we have one of the cleanest festivals in the area. Our contract with them pays for their summer camp scholarship.

• Whaling Days contracts with the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets and an area church for road barrier security and provides badly needed funding for their nonprofit functions.

• This year, Whaling Days paid for an Eagle Scout project on the Clear Creek Trail and donated proceeds to the trail fund.

• Whaling Days also paid for three scholarships to area high school seniors.

• Also this year, Whaling Days helped pay for CK Grad Nite and we are delighted to help these deserving young adults celebrate in a safe and secure environment.

• Whaling Days is sponsoring Meghan Johnson, a hugely successful, local 12- year-old who has made it to the National Soap Box Derby Championship Finals in Akron, Ohio. We are proud to help her enjoy the finals and wish her well.

• Whaling Days has paid for thousands of dollars of new and needed electrical improvements to Silverdale Waterfront Park which we have generously allowed any function to use.

On top of providing a venue to raise charity dollars, Whaling Days remains “free and fun family entertainment,” with national music bands, the largest parade in West Sound with more than 130 entrants, a multicultural outrigger canoe race, a children’s stage, carnival, street fair, fireworks and much more.

Although a short disruption for some, we would hope that most people agree that Whaling Days does provide a benefit to the community and is doing pretty well for a 48-hour festival.

Barry Iles is the president of the Whaling Days Board of Directors.

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