FOLLOWUP: After more than 80 years, West Seattle Hi-Yu says goodbye

(July 2016 photo of what is now officially the last West Seattle Hi-Yu float – photo by Jim Edwards)

After months of working to figure out if West Seattle Hi-Yu – an 80+-year-old community organization – could be reorganized and saved, the decision is in. We asked Hi-Yu Secretary Gloria Teves about the results of this past Monday night’s meeting, and received this statement:

Dear West Seattle,

After much consideration and sadness, the West Seattle Hi-Yu announces it will be ceasing operation effective May 1. After 80+ years of service to the West Seattle community, this decision was not an easy one, but the right one to make at this time.

West Seattle Hi-Yu is an all-volunteer 501(c) 4 organization, originally established by the West Seattle Service Clubs to produce a community summer festival. Over the years, various aspects of the Hi-Yu Summer Festival have been transitioned to other groups. The largest of those activities, the West Seattle Parade, is now hosted by the West Seattle Rotary Club. Hi Yu has not hosted the parade for more than a decade.

Prior to the hiatus that Hi Yu began last fall to consider options regarding reorganization, Hi-Yu’s program consisted of the West Seattle Hi Yu Royalty Scholarship Programs and the West Seattle Parade float.

For several years the Hi-Yu organization has struggled to attract royalty candidates for both its junior and senior courts, dwindling numbers of volunteers and inconsistent financial support. On Monday, March 6, 2017, at its monthly general membership meeting, discussion was held on how the organization would move forward. After direct invitations and notice on the West Seattle Blog of the meeting date, time, and agenda, there were no attendees to the meeting. Compounding the lack of participation, West Seattle Hi-Yu organization is financially insolvent. Faced with these issues, the officers agreed to cease operations.

It is with great appreciation that we recognize the support and participation of the West Seattle community over the last 80+ years. While the Hi-Yu organization may have run its course, the nostalgia of the wonderful courts that were for years the mainstay of Hi-Yu, and represented West Seattle in wonderful summer festivals around the region, will live on.

From now until May 1, we will focus on the following activities:

*Confirm participation in the 2017 Seafair Women’s Scholarship Program.
*Pay existing scholarship commitments.
*Donation or disposal of the float.
*Miscellaneous business closing activities.

For additional information, please email

Our archive of Hi-Yu coverage over the past decade is here.

26 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: After more than 80 years, West Seattle Hi-Yu says goodbye"

  • Alki Resident March 8, 2017 (5:36 pm)

    You have got to be kidding me. There are five generations of folks in West Seattle, with people young and old who lived for this summer parade. There are thousands of new people flocking here to reside and Hi-Yu is over? Unbelievable, what a shame.

    • WSB March 8, 2017 (5:43 pm)

      Really important to note: As it says in the statement above, ****THE PARADE IS NOT OVER**** – the Hi-Yu organization, which is ceasing operations, has NOT run the parade in many years. (Which is why we always correct people, as we were ourselves corrected years ago, that it’s the West Seattle Grand Parade, not the Hi-Yu Parade.) It’s currently a production of the Rotary Club. Whether the end of Hi-Yu will affect the parade, aside from the Hi-Yu Float and delegation not being part of it, is the subject of another followup … the Hi-Yu float’s appearance in other parades was, we have been told, in reciprocal arrangement for other communities’ floats/delegations coming here. But … again … THE PARADE LIVES ON. Maybe I’d better make that part bold. – TR

  • SuPark March 8, 2017 (6:45 pm)

    The whole “young girls dressed up as beauty queens” aspect of this always struck me as being somewhat anachronistic.  Maybe the time is right to move on from 80 year-old traditions.

  • WS Woman March 8, 2017 (6:46 pm)

    Thank you for all the years of wonderful hard work and tradition.  The Hi-Yu letter was a graceful goodbye.  

    Today is International Women’s Day, reminding us to look forward to – and  aspire to – a future of true equality for girls and women.

    • seaopgal March 9, 2017 (10:28 am)

      Came here to say exactly that!

  • Al March 8, 2017 (6:46 pm)

    I agree with AR.  

  • Space Dust March 8, 2017 (6:47 pm)

    Sad….People of West Seattle are more concerned about who’s cutting a tree’s down and the power went out with your neighbor passing away in a house fire.  Fighting something your NOT going to change seems to be more important then supporting your own community. Wake up people, Hi-Yu brought the community together and YOUR going to just let it slip away. SAD!

  • Alki mom March 8, 2017 (6:58 pm)

    Thank you so much Hi Yu for your many years of service to West Seattle.

  • Alki Resident March 8, 2017 (7:03 pm)

    Maybe you can delete what I said. I’ve been through a lot today. Sorry for jumping. The parade lives on. 

  • My two cents ... March 8, 2017 (7:07 pm)

     A big thank you to all of the Hi Yu  volunteers from over the years.  Even though it is unfortunate that the organization had to shut down, it in no way reflects the long and  substantial contributions they made to West Seattle and the city of Seattle as a whole.

  • Erithan March 8, 2017 (7:10 pm)

    So sad! With all the new businesses etc. coming in, how was there just no help for funding? (Yes I know smaller ones and in general are over taxed, but still…)

    I know they don’t run the parade now, but I have fond memories of walking up from our house everyear(breaking out the scratchy blanket) to get a good seat, and hiding from pirate cannons…seeing the court and so much more!

    ☹️ Another piece of my childhood crushed….though I’ll always cherish the memories, thank you Hi-Yu for those.

  • Dale March 8, 2017 (7:56 pm)

    I understand. Volunteers make it a go. Sadly, many know are delving into income related TT Imes to pay for overhead. It’s not a knock on Millennials, it’s survival. 

  • Alyssa March 8, 2017 (8:38 pm)

    This is so sad for me. I was proud to be a teen ambassador for last years court and my little sister was a junior court princess. It wasn’t just a beauty show for us, it was learning about the community and being able to speak to them without being scared. I was looking forward to doing it again this year, but sadly I can’t 

  • kg March 8, 2017 (9:32 pm)

    Didn’t the Hi-Yu court also have scholarships? I seem to read at least once per year here on the WSB “Help, I need scholarships for my college bound kid.” Guess that’s another opportunity gone.

    Dressing up as “beauty queens” is anachronistic? I have only seen them at speaking events in polo shirts and pants while wearing their sashes.  Is dressing up for weddings anachronistic? Proms?

    Thanks Hi-Yu for giving it a try.

  • Jim March 8, 2017 (10:03 pm)

    For the record, the current Hi-Yu is version 2.0 started in 1949. It has never been associated with the West Seattle parade production in any way, other than to represent the community at other festivals and parades. The original Hi-Yu Association was started in 1934 by the American Legion Post 160 and Commander Orville Rummel. It ceased operations after the 1936 festival. In 1934 the American Legion also started the West Seattle Parade, and it  operated for nearly 8 decades under their direction. The Stewardship of the parade is now with Rotary Club of West Seattle, and with their enthusiastic support, the parade will continue to be around for many years to come. Hope to see you all at the parade Saturday, July 22nd 2017.

  • Seabruce March 8, 2017 (10:50 pm)

    Maybe West Seattle businesses can get together to save or create a new Hi-Yu organization with additional money from developers. LOL. I’m still waiting for a group to figure out a way to replace the stolen ‘Walking on logs’ sculpture.  😟

  • datamuse March 9, 2017 (6:31 am)

    I have to ask…did any of those so unhappy to see Hi-Yu go participate in the efforts these last months to save it?

  • Mike March 9, 2017 (6:36 am)

    This on the same day that one of the Hi-Yu princesses, India Gants, won America’s Next Top Model.  Random facts, but related.

  • Heidi March 9, 2017 (6:59 am)

    Thank you Hi-Yu volunteers for all your service, timeless giving, and joy that you brought to the community over all these years.  I was the queen from 1995 and it was such an amazing time in my life to learn about the community, serve others, and be pushed to be more!  It was nothing to do with a beauty pageant and everything to do with striving to be better and to realize how important our community is!

  • me on 28th Ave SW March 9, 2017 (7:27 am)

    I was on the Hi Yu Court in 1984-85.  Jim (Hi Jim!!!) was our float driver.  Our court chaperones were Jay and Joanne Murray, who have been tireless Hi Yu volunteers for many years.  Hi Yu has struggled for decades to attract and keep volunteers.  While I am saddened, I am not surprised, at this decision.  Despite reaching out to the local high schools and changing the time commitments for the Hi Yu Court, the number of interested participants has been steadily going down for many years now.  

    I have sincere gratitude to all the volunteers who worked so many years to keep Hi Yu afloat.  The experience I had those two summers (running for court one year and then being in the court the next) was amazing.  So much public speaking and interviews! 

  • AJP March 9, 2017 (7:55 am)

    There are many other ways to be involved in the community, to learn public speaking skills, and to gain scholarships. I would say part of the reason it’s shutting down is that there are such varied opportunities in our community. That’s okay. This may be sad from a nostalgic viewpoint, but it’s just the circle of life. 

  • Julia March 9, 2017 (9:13 am)

    I wish there was a way to keep having a West Seattle float. Especially if means we won’t have others in our parade.

  • O Little March 9, 2017 (12:14 pm)

    I’ll miss working with them at West Seattle Summer Fest and the Seattle Seafair Pirate Landing. 

  • Vicki Hoyt March 9, 2017 (2:32 pm)

    We are truly sorry to see the Hi Yu Festival go away, our friends, our family in festivals. We will miss you! Thank you for your friendship and support over the years, thank you for your service to the West Seattle Community. My friends, you are always welcome at Seafair! 

    Chief Marshal,

    Seafair Parade Marshals

  • WSRes March 9, 2017 (6:20 pm)


    Good Bye Hi-YU Summer Festival

    After reading through the comments I feel some clarification
    is required.  The Hi-Yu Organization was
    completely voluntary and often expenses covered by those active in the
    program.  Primarily HI-Yu had become a
    scholarship opportunity and West Seattle community summer participant to the
    Puget Sound area.  Young ladies and more
    recently young men got an opportunity to grow in confidence and poise as they represented
    WS at various events on our peninsula and around the sound.  High school and college aged women and men
    could earned scholarships and the WS Hi Yu Queen competed in the Seafair Foundation
    Scholarship Program for Women.  The other
    primary activity of WS Hi-Yu was participation in local parades with the HI-Yu
    Float.  One of the few remaining floats
    created and driven from a Seattle community. 
    The cost to operate the organization and support these two functions was
    $8000 – 10000. Scholarships, insurance, gowns, float decorations and operations
    required WS HI-Yu volunteers to sell a lot of button, water, float pictures,
    and solicit WS business for auction donation and seasonal event program.  While there were several people who stayed on
    year to year the organization expected the families of Jr and St Court to help
    raise funds, staff booths and chaperone the float.  It became overwhelming when a person chaired
    one event and had extensive involvement with three others.  While there was good turn out last fall to
    keep HI-Yu alive, the immediate involvement was to attend a reporting meeting
    and obviously that fell short.   It was a
    great run, farewell.

    While WS Hi-Yu will not be present in 2017 and beyond, there
    with WS Grand Parade, Pirates’s Landing, Fun Run, and WS SummerFest street

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