With a beach as a backyard and a growing appreciation for the wonders of the briny depths, Jefferson County first-grader Henry Norris was a natural winner of Gov. Jay Inslee’s contest to draw a Kraken.
Kraken is the nickname of the expansion National Hockey League team set to hit the ice at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena in 2021.
“I live at the beach, I basically always get to go there,” said Norris, who also has built his own marine science center during beach play times. His mother, Katy Norris, declined to provide their address to protect their privacy.
“Big clam shells and basically about anything that washes up on shore,” Norris said of what he displays. “Jellyfish sometimes, and I make kelp tunnels. I made a hand-washing station out of kelp.”
By winning the contest, Norris, 6, earned a prize he may appreciate more when he grows older: a lifetime pass on the Washington State Ferry system.
“Within our family we’ve joked that he’s going to need to stick around Washington,” his mom said. “It’s such a valuable prize. What’s the cost of a ferry ticket going to be when he’s in his 60s? And he’ll be able to use it on the all the Washington State Ferries.”
Inslee announced Norris’ victory in an online video posted by the Kraken.
— Seattle Kraken (@NHLSeattle_) October 15, 2020
A cephalopodic scientific discovery, a marine biologist father and an observant mom all played roles in Norris’ contest victory.
“In July, I was watching the governor’s press conference and it was the same day of the announcement of the Kraken name,” Norris’ mom, Katy Norris said.
“He opened the press conference by saying the first child to find and draw a Kraken would win the prize. A year before we had a Humboldt squid wash upon the beach near our house and I took pictures and I grabbed a photo off of my Facebook page, Henry made his drawing and I looked up Inslee’s press secretary and sent it along.”
Kraken are alternately depicted as gigantic tentacled octopus or squid-like sea beasts with a penchant for attacking sea-going vessels.
Inslee praised Norris in the video, which intercuts scenes that show Henry exploring a beach, discussing his sighting of the “Kraken,” his prize-winning drawing and a trip on the Port Townsend-Coupeville ferry route.
“This is an amazing thing that we wanted to see achieved. And I can report to Washingtonians that it has now been achieved,” Inslee said.
“Henry Norris, a young student from Jefferson County not only discovered this Kraken but actually depicted it in the drawing he sent to me. We are appreciative of his talents and those of his father, who is a marine biologist and helped in his great discovery.”
A video production crew working for the Kraken visited Henry and family and filmed scenes Sept. 18. They came bearing gifts.
“They provided us with all sorts of Kraken swag,” Katy Norris said. “Kraken outfits and coffee mugs and Henry got a little hockey stick and hockey puck and he’s been playing with that.”
The family also watched a little of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, introducing the sport of hockey to the team’s newest fan, who also plays soccer and rides horses.
“He’s super excited to attend a Kraken game when the team gets started and can have fans in the arena,” Katy Norris said.
“There haven’t been any ticket offers yet from the team, but we are hopeful.”
As for the lifetime ferry pass, the family tried it out almost immediately on a trip to Edmonds, running into a bit of a snag.
“It didn’t work on the way back [when passenger fares are charged], but we think we worked it out with the ferry system,” Norris said.
“It doesn’t cover car and driver until Henry is 16. Then he will be able to use it commuting to and from college. And every three years he will have to re-up with the department and send along a photo for a new ID card.”
And Henry already enjoys taking ferry rides to visit grandparents who live on the other side of Puget Sound.
“We like to stand on the bow of the boat and it’s really just fun looking at all the stuff outside,” Henry said in the video.
The family will have another chance to use his new prize, as Katy Norris said the Seattle Aquarium had reached out Friday afternoon about scheduling a tour, likely to view a giant Pacific octopus up close, among other marine animals.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected] news.com.