Published: Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Take a walk on the funky side

By Jackson Holtz
Herald writer
Guests enjoy the Fremont Walking Tour in July.

Purchase Photo Reprint For The Weekly Herald/JENNIFER BUCHANAN

Guests enjoy the Fremont Walking Tour in July.

Barrel chested with a voice bigger than his 6-foot, 2-inch frame, it’s hard to miss Guy “Doc” Lafitte strolling the streets of Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood.
The good doctor wears a long cream-colored linen jacket, pinstriped wool trousers and big black boots. Lafitte has a curled handlebar moustache and one eye is covered by a black patch.
It’s a costume that fits his 19th-century persona.
Visitors today find Lafitte and others like him on The Fremont Tour, best defined as one part art history, one part local lore and several more parts street theater.
For $18 a person, participants follow behind a pair of costumed tour guides who entertain, teach and pull pranks on their willing victims.
Paying customers are dressed in all sorts of outfits, treated to group hugs and sent on scavenger hunts. One person even gets to launch a rocket.
To be sure, Fremont is funky, even if the neighborhood’s claim that it is the “Center of the Universe” is a bit overstated.
With bags full of props in tow, the group wanders the neighborhood, stopping at about six spots, mostly the public art erected on sidewalks.
There is “Waiting for the Interurban” (a statue of six people and a dog waiting for the old street car that once ran from Seattle to Everett), a rocket, and a huge statue of Vladimir Lenin.
“He was always been my favorite Beatle,”said Bjorn Anders, tour guide.
The Fremont Tour is the brainchild of Edmonds businessman Mark Ukelson, 59. Ukelson used to own a warehouse business in Fremont and has been noodling with the idea of a guided tour for a long time.
“It took me 16 years to get my act together,” Ukelson said.
The tours have been operating since June 19 and are scheduled through Sept. 4 before hibernating for the winter.
Ukelson wrote a script, hired actors who can improvise, and insists that while the tours may be playful, they’re timely.
That means arrive on time and bring a big helping of good humor.
The other day, plenty of people peppered guides Lafitte and Anders with questions about Fremont, the artwork, and about their gags, magic tricks and outfits.
Lafitte said he’d do his best to respond. With a tip of his broad-rimmed hat and a twinkle gleaming from his one eye, he quipped, “If we don’t know the answer, we’ll make it up.”

The Fremont Tour
Tours are scheduled at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 4.
Tickets cost $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students. Kids under 10 and seniors over 99 are free. Reserve a spot, purchase tickets or find more information at
The tour leaves from The History House, 790 N. 34th St., Seattle.