Tulip Tips

Blooming blunders 101

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I’ve often wondered about the job descriptions for the brave humans who are hired to patrol the busy fields during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

“Must be willing to pluck a gap-toothed toddler from amid a picturesque cluster of flowers in the name of keeping the stems intact,” I imagine the posting reads. “Please be in condition to run at a moment’s notice, as you will be required to keep hordes of tourists intent on getting the best Instagram photos of their lives from tiptoeing through the you-know-what. If you don’t have a voice that carries, you should also learn how to use a megaphone to amplify it.”

You might think I’m joking, but I witnessed the petal police in action during a day trip to the Skagit Valley last spring, and their suffering is real.

My date and I had recently finished a jaunt through the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and were on our way to Mount Vernon for lunch. We talked about stopping at RoozenGarde or Tulip Town for an in-depth exploration of the fertile fields, but agreed our hunger took precedence.

However, when we had to slow down on Best Road because of a sudden traffic backup, we realized that dozens of cars pulled over to the side of the road near Tulip Town were partially to blame for the lag. Instead of lambasting those who had left their vehicles parked in a haphazard manner reminiscent of the scene of an accident—not an emergency photo shoot caused by the lure of a vibrant field of red and yellow tulips—we angled our ride dangerously near a “no parking” sign and joined them.

As we snapped a few selfies and shot a few more pictures for posterity, the aforementioned crimes against nature had the security detail in a tizzy.

“Sir! Please get out of the tulips!” one employee screeched at a man with a camera who was standing in the middle of a row of flowers. The guy was not only far enough away that hearing the admonition would have been a stretch, but also way too engrossed in the scenery to care. The “cop” had to hustle a few hundred feet to get his message across, by which time the mellow fellow was already returning to the road.

During the 20 minutes we spent gazing at the tulips, as well as at the back-and-forth between rubberneckers and security, I realized those who make the trek to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival each April should follow a few simple tips so as not to make the same blooming blunders.

First off, if there’s a sign instructing you to stay a respectful distance away from the flowers, follow that directive and use your camera to get closer. Second, if you have the option to come during the week instead of on a weekend, then take it, as traffic during Saturday and Sunday has been known to back up a mile or two.

Finally, if you see a winded security guard bearing down on you, stop and listen to what they have to say. They’re only doing their jobs, after all.

For more details about the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, go to http://www.tulipfestival.org

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