Marvelous Swift Night Out – 2014

 Monroe Swift Night Out Was a Rousing Success
by Judy Alles, Chairman, Monroe Swift Night Out Committee

September 22, 2014

Thanks to all the volunteers and community groups who made Monroe Swift Night Out at the Wagner Center in Monroe on September 13th such a rousing success.  Whether behind the scenes or on the front lines, their efforts were essential to the public’s enjoyment of the event.  The crowd was large (more than 1,800 folks).  The weather was beautiful.  And the Vaux’s Swifts put on a spectacular show!

Larry Schwitters, world-renowned swift expert, gave an informative lecture that was both entertaining and educational.  His yearly presentation is a “must-see” part of this event. Vikki Berard, principal at Frank Wagner Elementary School, was a delightful emcee and Hugo Molina, assistant principal at Frank Wagner and Chain Lake Elementary Schools, assisted on-lookers and participants.

Thanks to the staff at the Monroe School District and the City of Monroe for the help they gave us and to the Monroe Chamber of Commerce.  And to Kim Hoover of the Monroe Arts Council, who provided the Wagner Auditorium for our use.  What a lovely, old building that is.

A great big thanks to the Monroe-Sky Valley YMCA for providing tables and fun activities for the children.  Did you see those darling paper-plate birds that the children made?  And to the Swift Clubs from Frank Wagner Elementary and Fryelands Elementary, which had children’s activities, swift headbands and a bean bag toss into a replica chimney.  And to the Frank Wagner PTA, which had a booth with children’s projects and refreshments.  Children had lots of fun things to do at this event.

A special thank you goes to all the booths that participated that evening.  The Seattle Audubon Society booth, where Neil and Carleen Zimmerman presented a variety of bird skins (from chickadees to hawks) for visitors to touch and examine, was a big hit!  The Bats NW booth was fascinating. The PAW’s booth was magnetic. And the Pilchuck Audubon Society booth was quite informative. Once again, Leann Jacobson, her daughter Rebecca, and her able crew, outdid themselves with the spaghetti dinner, hot dogs and apple crisp.  So delicious! If you didn’t get a chance to have any, be sure to get some next year.

The Monroe Digital Copy Center donated pages from the Vaux’s swifts coloring book in both English and Spanish to give to the children who came to the event.  And the Monroe Wild Birds Unlimited store made numerous behind-the-scenes contributions.

And we cannot forget Mike Farrell and his crew from the Monroe Parks and Recreation Department who provided that ingredient essential to any public event—garbage cans and sani-cans. Thanks much, Mike!

And it goes without saying that we could not have done this event without the support of the media. How many people would have missed it without them? The Monroe Monitor/Valley News, the Woodinville Weekly, The Herald and other publications wrote wonderful articles on Swift Night Out. And King 5 TV’s Evening Magazine did an excellent feature story on the Monroe chimney the night before the event. All of which contributed to the largest audience ever at the Wagner chimney on Swift Night Out.  Thanks to each and every one for their support!

And we must not forget our docents, who distributed brochures and answered questions that evening (as well as all month long at the chimney).  It is so wonderful to come to the chimney to see the swifts and to have your questions answered on the spot. Of course, you can check out several websites for more information about the Vaux’s swifts, the Wagner chimney in Monroe as well as other roost chimneys from Canada to California, and our latest adventures with the swifts, such as radio tracking 6 swifts from Yakima in this migration (first time this has ever been done):, and

Kudos especially to Cindy Easterson for taking charge that night while our chairman was out-of-town.  She did an excellent job of overseeing the event and taking care of numerous last-minute details. And an especially big thank you goes to the members of the Monroe Swift Night Out Committee, who spent many hours over several months planning the event and contributed their time and effort in so many ways that night.  It is a delight to work with such an incredible group of people, who accept a challenge and can be counted on to do what they say they will do. They are really awesome!

And, of course, our thank you’s would not be complete without a great big THANK YOU to all the people who came to Monroe Swift Night Out.  The people who sat on the lawn, in chairs, or stood while watching the swifts perform their aerial acrobatics and while witnessing an incredible act of nature. These are the same people who got caught up in the experience and clapped wholeheartedly when the last bird entered the chimney.  Without you, there would be no event. Thank you for coming!

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