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Audio tours offer voices of past and present

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By Kristi O'Harran
Herald Columnist
Northwest Heritage Resources offers two new audio tours, one for the northern half of the Cascade Loop Highway and one for Whidbey Island.
The Heritage Tour series offers narrated audio guides along various routes through Washington state. The tours point out natural sites, places of historic interest and introduces listeners to people along the route.
Ease the CD into your car player and take a drive.
In the audio tour of Whidbey Island, you'll hear Norwegian and Dutch musical traditions, American Indian Coast Salish songs, Croatian American music from Anacortes, Hispanic songs from the Skagit Valley, bluegrass music from towns along the Skagit River and songs you might hear on a horse-packing adventure.
Whidbey Island is 47 miles of the western end of the Cascade Loop Highway. Whidbey can be reached by ferry from the south and by car (over the Deception Pass bridge) from the north.
"The focus of our Whidbey Island audio tour guide is on the cultural heritage and traditional art forms that you'll find on the island," said Executive Director Jill Linzee. "Our intention has been to capture some of the local narratives and music, and to give listeners a sense of the culture of the island -- past and present."
Some of the voices come from families who have lived for up to four generations on Whidbey, some who have lived there for all or most of their adult life, and others who are relative newcomers. The audio tour begins at the south end of Whidbey in Clinton, where visitors arrive at the ferry dock. From there it travels north along Highway 525, which then connects with Highway 20 at the north end of Greenbank. Following Highway 20, the tour continues north to the far northern end of the island and concludes at Deception Pass State Park.
The Whidbey Island audio tour is one CD accompanied by a 20-page booklet of liner notes.
Other tours to purchase include Leavenworth to Maryhill; Richland to Clarkston; the Olympic Peninsula Loop; Seattle to Vancouver; Seattle to Blaine; Seattle to Spokane; Cascade Loop, South; and Anacortes via North Cascades National Park to Chelan.
They sell for $9.95 to $17.95 plus postage and handling.
For more information, call 206-306-1181 or email The website is www.northwest
The Lights of Christmas, south of Stanwood, offered "Pay What You Can" nights allowing guests to pay what they wished to enter.
"We wanted to do something for people who could otherwise not be able to afford the regular admission price," said Ed McDowell, executive director.
Two such nights were Dec. 1 and 19. The final "Pay What You Can" is planned for Wednesday, the last night of the Lights.
On opening night, Dec. 1, 1,800 folks took advantage of the offer. Usually, they expect less than 1,000 guests for the opener.
On Dec. 19, more than 8,000 visitors turned up and they closed the gates at 9:15 p.m. with more waiting.
"It might be spurred by the tight economic times we live in," said Director of Operations David Kanehen.
Two off-duty Snohomish County sheriffs directed traffic on the big attendance night, the largest in 15 years of Lights.
Director Tom Larsen with Columbia College in Everett and Marysville said many students are not able to attend their graduation ceremony because they may be on deployment or traveling for work.
"Columbia has created a way that they can attend a graduation ceremony," Larsen said. "Not the same as participating in a real graduation ceremony, but at least they know that CC recognizes their accomplishment."
They offer a virtual commencement with speeches and videos. Their names are read as if they attended the actual ceremony.
Loved ones may post notes of congratulations for any student they wish, and students can share their successes via social media.
For more information, go to
Kristi O'Harran: 425-339-3451;
Story tags » EverettMarysvilleWhidbey IslandChristmas

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