Going Hog Wild in Seattle

"Notes from the Helm" from our July 27, 2007, CW Reckonings

Lavishly decorated fiberglass pigs are just some of the attractions you'll find ashore in Seattle

Lavishly decorated fiberglass pigs are just some of the attractions you'll find ashore in SeattleMark Pillsbury

One of the best things about sailing in new waters-apart from a fresh breeze, cruising with good friends, and breath-taking anchorages-are the unexpected sights you see when you step ashore.

A recent trip to the Pacific Northwest with San Juan Sailing included all of the above (and more), along with a visit to Seattle, where the crew went, well, hog wild, for the Pigs on Parade.

The first pig we spotted drew curious looks, the second had us suspicious, the third had us rooting around to get to the bottom of things. Seattlehoonians (I assume that's what they call themselves) know all about the pigs, of course, but we were intrigued to learn that the swine on seemingly every corner (no, not the people from California) are doing as much good as they are delighting.

The first pigs appeared in 2001, as a fundraising effort by the Pike Place Market Foundation, a group formed a couple decades ago to save what's now a downtown shopping Mecca/social services center from the wrecking ball. The 2007 Pigs on Parade includes 100 fiberglass pigs, each decorated by a local artist, and each sponsored by a Seattle philanthropist. This year's parade is timed to celebrate the market's centennial, and by no small coincidence, the Chinese year of the Golden Pig.

So what's with the pig theme? Well, when residents in 1971 voted to save the market, local sculptor Georgia Gerber, designed Rachel, a bronze piggy bank. Since then, Rachel has raised more than $120,000 that's gone to services at the Pike Market Medical Clinic, Senior Center, Preschool and Downtown Food Bank.

So there you have it: Besides snow-capped mountains, quirky tidal currents, dungeness crabs, and the Marines, you have another reason to make Seattle a port of call this summer and fall. And if you by chance arrive October 12, you'll be just in time for the pig auction. It goes without saying that one of these little beauties would look splendid on any foredeck.