Harpist on Port Townsend-Keystone ferry silenced after 17 years

PORT TOWNSEND – David Michael’s Celtic harp has been silenced after more than 17 years of soothing ferry passengers traveling between Port Townsend and Keystone on Whidbey Island.

“They shut me down for exactly the same thing they hired me for 32 years ago,” said Michael, who unsuccessfully negotiated last week for a contract with a ferry system lawyer.

“This is like being kicked in the solar plexus.”

Michael, 55, who moved to Port Townsend in 1990, gave up his volunteer performances aboard the Klickitat on Aug. 13.

Washington State Ferries officials had received two complaints from passengers, saying that they had to abide by security measures while Michael did not.

Michael was notified that he had to comply with both security and for-profit policies.

State ferries officials say they had no choice but to fairly enforce security policies that were stepped up in the aftermath of terrorist attacks on the East Coast on Sept. 11, 2001.

Tightened security requires passengers to take their baggage and personal items off the ferries, even if they are returning on the next ferry run.

They must also remain with their personal items, such as backpacks and luggage.

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