By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT TOWNSEND — Rained out of Fort Worden, the royal court for the 78th annual Rhododendron Festival set their handprints into concrete in a garage during the traditional first event of this week's celebration.
Queen Emma White Thunder and Princesses Corinthia Cardona and Kaila Olin put their hands into wet cement mixed by Steve Bozak in the garage of the home he shares with Melanie Bozak, past president of the Rhody Festival, on Monday afternoon.
The wet weather made it impossible for them to set their handprints at tthe Centennial Rhododendron Garden at Fort Worden State Park.
The festival continues today with a pet parade and a trike race, and offers more events through Sunday.
The handprints of Rhody Royalty since the early 1990s — when the city decided it could no longer install them in a downtown sidewalk — are stored in two or three private garages in town until a permanent place can be found for them.
Several years of Rhody handprints are visible on the sidewalk in front of Waterfront Pizza, 951 Water St.
The highlight of the festival will be Saturday, with a Grand Parade at 1 p.m. starting in front of the Port Townsend Library's Carnegie building and winding down Lawrence and Adams streets to downtown.
Afterward, a Port Townsend group will let participants eat cake, and before the parade will be a “Running of the Balls” charity event.
The second annual Running of the Balls will begin at noon Saturday, with painted and numbered golf balls “racing” down Monroe Street.
The balls are sold as a fundraiser for Sunrise Rotary for $5 each or $20 per ball, with the first-place winner walking away with a $1,000 prize.
Second and third prizes for $500 and $250, respectively, also will be awarded.
Balls are for sale from local Rotarians or by emailing email@example.com.
The Cake Picnic is a Port Townsend group's attempt to start a new tradition.
The BoomFest team, which has sponsored an annual music festival and other events, is the driving force behind the picnic at Pope Marine Park.
The picnic will begin at about 4:30 p.m. after the parade.
Organizer Danny Milholland said that enough cake — a lemon butter recipe with a frosting to be determined — will be on hand to serve 1,600 people.
Bakers Meredith Hotchkiss and Kellen Lynch of the Cultivated Palette kitchen will prepare the cake.
They did a test run Friday, and samples were distributed to businesses in the hopes of convincing sponsors to donate and support the venture.
Milholland said he hopes to raise $2,000 to cover the cost of the baking and the cake. As of early this week, about $900 had been raised.
Any excess funds raised will be split between a donation to the Port Townsend Food Bank and putting aside for next year's picnic.
Several partners are on board.
The Food Co-op is donating $300 toward the cost of ingredients, the city is donating the use of Pope Marine Park and the Cotton Building, and the YMCA will set up a face-painting station.
Other sponsors — in addition to the Rhododendron Festival, the city, Cultivated Palette and the YMCA — are Dalla Notte Baking, ItsYourWork.com, the Food Co-op, Mike Biskup Paintings, Perfect Dream Cupcakes, Wallyworks Construction and Blue Heron Construction, Milholland said.
The Cake Picnic is only the newest addition to the Rhody Fest, which has provided family entertainment in Port Townsend for the past 77 years.
Prefestival events included the “Dude Looks Like a Lady” fundraiser last Saturday night and last weekend's Rhody Arts and Crafts Fair.
The Rhody float, designed to look like Aladdin's lamp in connection with the festival theme of “I Dream of Rhody,” made its first appearance this year in Saturday's Sequim Irrigation Festival Parade.
Festival events continue today with a race.
-- Trike Races at at 6 p.m. with 5:30 p.m. registration at Pope Marine Park.
Other festival events include:
-- Pet Parade on Thursday with 3:30 p.m. registration and 4 p.m. start, beginning at Van Buren and Lawrence streets in the uptown district.
-- Funtastic Carnival, set from 4 p.m. to closing Thursday and from noon to closing Friday and Saturday at Memorial Field.
-- Bed Races, 5 p.m. Friday at the Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water St.
-- Hair and Beard Contest, 5 p.m. Friday, Northwest Maritime Center.
-- American Legion Fish Fry, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, 209 Monroe St.
-- Elks Rhody Fundraiser Pancake Breakfast, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Elks Lodge, 555 Otto St.
-- Jim Caldwell Memorial Rhody Open, starting at 8 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday at the Port Townsend Golf Course, 1948 Blaine St.
-- Spaghetti Feed, 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Elks Lodge.
-- Rhody Run Race, 11 a.m. Sunday at Fort Worden State Park.
Those wishing to contribute to the Cake Picnic can follow the PayPal link at www.cakepicnic.com or send a check made out to “Rhododhendron Festival” to 1829 Lincoln St., Port Townsend, WA 98369.
For more information, phone Milholland at 360-385-0519.
For more about the Rhody Festival, visit http://tinyurl.com/rhodyfest.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.