The first-ever Burning Boat Festival was held at Des Moines Beach Park on New Year’s Eve, and it brightly (and warmly) blazed in the new year of 2023.
This was a new local, grassroots fundraiser to benefit mental health and substance use disorder treatment through nonprofit organization Valley Cities Behavioral Health Care.
We heard that over 600 tickets were sold, and it was a lively, fun night with around 100 attendees who enjoyed sponsored bonfires, a beer and wine garden, and some live music, including Clan Gordon of Tacoma and the Martin Green Duo.
As of Jan. 2, 2023, a total of $26,993 was raised (you can still donate online here).
“We believe housing support and treatment for mental health disorders and substance use disorders are more important now than ever before,” organizers said.
It all climaxed with the big burn of a boat made by students from Maritime High School, and was lit by raffle winner Julie via propane torch after a countdown at midnight.
The boat was filled with handwritten notes, mostly including intentions of letting go of something from 2022, and when it went up in flames the crowd cheered, sang and laughed as everyone warmly welcomed 2023.
Below is video from the event by Scott Schaefer (running time 9-minutes, 11-seconds), as well as photos:
And more photos, courtesy event organizers: