The Pacific Rim Whale Festival’s opening parade will party through Tofino on Saturday morning starting at 10 a.m.

The Pacific Rim Whale Festival’s opening parade will party through Tofino on Saturday morning starting at 10 a.m.

Pacific Rim Whale Festival arrives in Tofino and Ucluelet

"I'm looking forward to two weeks of fantastic community events."

The grays have arrived and the celebration is about to commence.

The West Coast’s 32nd annual Pacific Rim Whale Festival will kick off with a 10 a.m. parade in Tofino on Saturday.

“I’m looking forward to two weeks of fantastic community events at the Pacific Rim Whale Festival,” said Tofino mayor Josie Osborne. “I always learn something new about whales, the natural world and important environmental issues, and I want to offer enormous thanks to the great team of coordinators and volunteers that pulls this festival together for our enjoyment every year.”

Festival coordinator Sue Payne touted the event as the West Coast’s unofficial launch into spring.

“Everybody sort of waits for Whale Fest. to come out of their hibernation,” she said. “It gets everybody back in the groove and thinking spring…The whales are back and everybody’s excited. It ramps up our busier season and gets everybody going. It’s awesome.”

Saturday’s parade will start at Wickaninnish Community School and migrating roughly 1.5 kilometres through town before ending at the Tofino Village Green.

Prior to taking in the parade, festival-goers can fill up at a Pancake Breakfast being held at the Tofino Legion from 8:30-10:30 a.m. and, afterwards, they can help beautify the coast at a Pacific Rim Surfrider Foundation beach cleanup from 1-4 p.m. at Wickaninnish Beach.

“Get out. Enjoy some of the events. Say ‘Hi’ to your neighbours and just have fun,” Payne said.

Educational opportunities will abound during the two weeks worth of festivities and Payne encourages locals and visitors to check out the festival’s ongoing speaker series.

She added a Sea-Change Panel on March 18 will focus on how climate change is affecting the ocean.

“It’s a really hot topic and a very interesting one and we’ve got some great guests,” Payne said.

The event is made possible thanks to committed volunteers and Payne encourages anyone willing to lend a hand to reach out through the Pacific Rim Whale Festival’s Facebook page or here.

“It’s a great community festival and it brings people together,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun and you can meet new people.”

A full schedule and break down of each event can be found in the Whale Fest guides distributed in last week’s Westerly News and available at participating businesses throughout the West Coast.

Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News