From left, Andy Gill and Steve Donithan with the Wenatchee city street department paint one of 22 apples on the Apple Blossom parade route, this one on Orondo Street Tuesday night, April 19, 2022. The template they use is on their truck at left. The apples, a longstanding tradition, are painted in five colors: yellow, green, pink, red, and gold.
Driving down Orondo Street a few weeks ago I noticed white squares painted on the street at various locations. Having lived here long enough, I knew that the street department was getting ready for its annual job of painting apples along the Apple Blossom Festival parade route.
A quick call to Andy Greer, the city’s street maintenance supervisor, and he agreed to call me when his crew would be going out to finish the job.
Fast forward – a foot of snow, a bunch of rain. It’s now April 19.
Greer calls me that it’s happening this night. Perfect for me — I’m shooting a soccer game that starts at 7 p.m. and he says his crew starts at 8 or 9. They’ll give me a call to let me know when they are heading out.
I get the call in the second half of the soccer game. Eastmont is up 5-0 and some starters are getting pulled so I’m good to go.
I drive up Orondo Street and see cones and a bright light on the back of a utility truck. After parking some distance away, I’m greeted by Andy Gill and Steve Donithan, who are just finishing up painting one of the red apples on the street. They work with five colors including a single gold apple at the start of the parade route.
I’ve got my safety vest on and am watching for the occasional car driving by as they move to the next white square, pull a stencil of an apple off the truck and begin tracing the inside with a pencil. Gill lifts the stencil off and they both begin painting — one the stem and leaf, the other the apple. This time it’s a green apple.
The lighting is pretty tricky for me to work with photographically, but dramatic, coming from the single light source on the back of the truck. I followed them as they painted a few more apples, waiting for another red one that would easily show up in newsprint. A patch of faded color from the previous year’s apple remains to let them know what color apple should be painted this time.
Andy said if they didn’t have that patch of color they’d have to look at Google Earth photos to figure out what color paint to use. It’s important to match every year he says.
I walk ahead to find the next apple. Looking back, a car drives into oncoming traffic, trying to avoid the cones and truck. Andy says stuff like that happens a lot. He seems to be used to it.
I left the two of them with a few more apples to go. Walking back to my truck and past the drying apples on the street, I started to get into the Apple Blossom Festival spirit knowing it wouldn’t be too much longer before I would be hoofing the same street — photographing the grand parade — in a little more than two weeks.
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