While the eyes of much of the world are on London this weekend, residents of the Wenatchee Valley are focused on events surrounding the 104th Apple Blossom Festival. The coronation of King Charles is a newsworthy event to be sure, but so, too, is the reign of Queen Scarlette and her two princesses.
I experienced my very first Apple Blossom Festival when I was 13. It was a highlight of the year for a new kid in town. Cradling my E-flat alto saxophone in my arms, I marched in the kids parade as part of the Pioneer Junior High School band. Being part of an all-city event was a thrill.
In high school, I got to be involved in festivities surrounding the selection of the royalty. As a senior, I even had the enviable privilege of dating the Apple Blossom Queen. To this day, memories of the Meeker carnival rides and attractions are still triggered this time of year.
One of the fondest memories I have of the festival was of a much more serious nature. It occurred the first weekend in May 1972. That was the year recording artist Pat Boone was the headliner at an ecumenical worship gathering in the Apple Bowl.
Because I was on the editorial staff of my college newspaper, I was invited to a breakfast with Pat Boone at the home of Paul and Kay Pugh prior to the community-wide celebration. I got to pose questions to the entertainer widely known for his penchant of wearing white shoes. The tanned celebrity was most cordial to this novice interviewer.
But the most impressive memory of that weekend was the worship service itself. The football stadium stands on both sides of the field were filled. A capacity crowd sitting on folding chairs covered the gridiron. As Pat Boone sang praises to God and spoke of his personal faith journey, the audience listened in rapt attention. I was one of those drinking it all in. As a kid who listened to my parents’ music, I’d been a Pat Boone fan for years. His “April Love” was most welcomed on this warm May morning.
The audience that morning was composed of those who had followed the crooner’s career from the time they were teenagers, as well as current teenagers who hadn’t a clue who Pat Boone was. In addition to the wide spectrum of ages, there was an equally diverse denominational representation. Attendees included those from the local Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal and Methodist churches, as well as those from less liturgical congregations, like the Baptists, Evangelicals and Charismatics.
Looking back on that combined gathering of Christ followers, I can see that I was being given a preview of coming attractions. Half a century ago, I had a sneak peek at what the Scripture says will one day be the norm. There is coming a time when doctrinal differences and divisions that currently separate the faithful will give way to unity and cooperation. The young and those older, no matter their skin color, culture or language will come together and join in a unison chorus of praise to the Creator.
What I experienced that Apple Blossom Festival weekend was the indication of what lies in store. And how appropriate that it would happen while valley orchards were boasting their beautiful blossoms. Just as apple blossoms on a tree are a precursor of the fruit that will be harvested come fall, so too are examples of Christian unity wherever we see them. An amazing harvest awaits.
Wenatchee native Greg Asimakoupoulos lives on Mercer Island, where he is a columnist for the Mercer Island Reporter.
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