Bloomsday has long been a seasonal marker for Inland Northwest residents to emerge from their cocoons. But this year in particular, let’s hope it’s the catalyst for shaking off a depressing winter in which the weather was only partly to blame. For a brief time, some wondered if this cursed run of bad news could even halt the race. But the swine flu scare won’t stop Bloomsday.
Like runners who are slowly stretching their muscles, the economy seems to be working out the kinks and cramps after a long period of contraction. Key indicators, such as consumer confidence and the stock market, show that long decline may be over. Even if the race doesn’t chase away the economic blues, it will provide a respite from the anxiety of layoffs, pay cuts, tuition hikes and sagging retirement funds.
A short-term dash from problems can be good for the soul.
Though the race can never count on good weather, sunnier dispositions are generally on display. For many of the 40,000 or so participants, this is a time to reunite with friends they haven’t seen for a while. In the spirit of the occasion, many will don whimsical attire and dance to the many musical groups laying down upbeat tunes.
Oh, there’s a competitive race, too, but that’s beside the point.
Whether participants are running, jogging or walking, they are carrying out a rich community tradition. Bloomsday is one of the region’s signature events. It’s been featured on ESPN and in running magazines, which convey positive images of the area. It also registers smiles for the operators of local hotels, shops, restaurants and other businesses.
What started out in 1977 as a fun run with a paltry 1,200 participants has blossomed into a major happening. Even those who aren’t registered can’t escape its influence, with the ubiquitous spaghetti feeds, creative T-shirts and live television coverage. Everybody knows somebody who is running or walking.
The race provides the starting line for annual events that display this community at its best. Bloomsday is followed closely by the Lilac Parade, then the summertime events of Hoopfest, the Ironman triathlon in Coeur d’Alene and Pig Out in the Park. Along with those events are small-town festivals and state and county fairs. And, as always, there’s the time-honored tradition of going to “the lake.”
Skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling are fun, but Bloomsday marks the first day of the year when this region really takes off.
Enjoy. You definitely deserve it.
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