Sequim resident Dan Long was among the candle carriers in a vigil held Saturday in downtown Sequim. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

Sequim resident Dan Long was among the candle carriers in a vigil held Saturday in downtown Sequim. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

‘Small town’ vigil in Sequim caps day of gatherings

SEQUIM — The big marches in Port Townsend and Seattle were all done by Saturday evening, yet the people of Sequim had plans of their own.

The second annual Candlelight Vigil — the first held the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017 — began at 5 p.m., and as twilight fell and the temperature dropped, the crowd grew.

Holding old-fashioned candles and some strung Christmas lights, Sequim residents clustered first in the small park on the southeastern corner of Sequim Avenue and Washington Street. Then they spread to the other three corners.

Organized largely on Facebook as “a peaceful Gathering of Friends and Community [for] Women’s Rights – Civil Rights – Human Rights – Affordable Healthcare – Medicare – Medicaid – Social Security,” the vigil swelled to some 75 people before finishing at 7 p.m.

They included a cross-section of locals such as Clallam County Commissioner Mark Ozias and his wife, Lisa Boulware, yoga teacher Barbara Boekelheide, marketing consultant Patricia McCauley, and a group calling itself the Nasty Women of Sequim.

“I’m supporting the women of the world,” said Sequim resident Michael Benavidez. His wife, Mary Benavidez, added that she came on behalf of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), to stand up for “human rights for our mentally ill.”

The pair had also attended the Women’s March on Saturday morning in Port Townsend. That event drew thousands; “they just kept coming and coming,” said Mary.

They kept coming to downtown Sequim too, on a smaller scale.

Unlike the Port Townsend event, there was no rally; not even a microphone. A few people waved to passing cars, but the Sequim gathering was mostly quiet.

The group North Olympic Peninsula Voices, with organizer Krestine Reed, had posted the event on Facebook as a “peaceful, respectful” one with “no signs, no shouting — no negative rhetoric of any kind.”

For those in attendance, it seemed just about right for Sequim. Dan Long was among the people simply holding a candle in silence.

“In a small town,” he said, “we still matter.”

________

Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.

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