Be-In is held at Seattle's Volunteer Park on April 30, 1967.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 6/20/2007
  • Essay 8189
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On April 30, 1967, more than 4,000 people attend a Be-In held at Volunteer Park in Seattle. Sponsored by Seattle's underground newspaper, the Helix, the gathering is entitled The Chief Seattle Flower Potlatch and Isness-In. 

Thousands Strong 

Seattle’s first Be-In was held at Cowen Park one month earlier, but that event was quiet, as it was mostly a “wake” for the loss of The Bookworm, a bookstore in the University District. Following that event, the Helix folks, took it upon themselves to sponsor a more boisterous and fun-loving be-in at Volunteer Park.

To promote the Chief Seattle Flower Potlatch and Isness-In, the Helix published excerpts from Chief Seattle’s 1854 address to Governor Isaac Stevens. More than 4,000 people showed up at Volunteer Park, from all walks of life. A few marines from Fort Lewis were in attendance, one of whom wore a painted love flower atop his shaven head. Mrs. Paul Hochschild, a silver-haired matron from Madrona, wore a lavender orchid on her Peruvian llama poncho, and exclaimed, “I haven’t had so much fun in YEARS!” 

Dancing in the Sun 

Attendees were given free balloons, incense sticks, or flowers. Six local bands played music throughout the day: The Farm, The Clockwork Orange, Crome Syrcus, The Right Angle, Magic Fern, and Blues Interchange. Arms, legs, and long hair flew as folks danced in wild abandonment. At one point, dancers grabbed on to a long braided rope and threaded their way amongst the crowd. 

Most people brought picnic lunches with plenty of food to share with strangers. Someone brought a grill and handed out free shish-ka-bobs until they ran out. People flew kites, blew soap bubbles, or just basked in the warm sunshine. 

At the end of the day, it was casually mentioned over the loudspeakers that everyone should pick up 13 pieces of paper or waste on their way out. After most people left, the park was cleaner than it was on most Sundays. A few stayed late, and the sound of conga drums and wooden flutes were heard amongst the trees.

Sources: “4,000 Take Trip to Music at Isness-In Here,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 1, 1967, p. 31; “Etc.” Helix, May 4, 1967, p. 7; Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995), p. 74.

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