The Port of Bellingham’s Meeting and Events Division is dedicated to community outreach. “We facilitate more than 500 events each year in our public rental spaces,” says Tiffany DeSimone, Port of Bellingham Meetings and Events Supervisor. “From weddings to memorials to company parties to concerts and official ceremonies, we work with a variety of families and organizations to give them market rate access to Bellingham’s waterfront locations.”
Through a dedicated staff and community outreach effort, the Port of Bellingham supports access to the waterfront for events, including hosting numerous events such as Ski to Sea, Bike to Work Day, Haggen Family 4th of July, Hoop It Up, SeaFeast and Holiday Port. From planning and logistics to sponsoring events, the Port of Bellingham works directly with community organizations and businesses to bring many event opportunities to the area.
Holiday Port, a free event which features the local favorite gingerbread house contest and over 40 local community performance groups in December, draws around 5,000 people. It also offers arts and crafts, a ferry terminal tour and a horse and carriage ride held at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. SeaFeast, held in September at Squalicum Harbor, is a Maritime Festival celebrating the maritime industry in Bellingham.
These community events draw tens of thousands of county residents and visitors each year providing a strong sense of community through involvement and support of local businesses that are a part of each of these events. With over 100,000 guests and community members coming through the doors of the various facilities each year, the Port of Bellingham is involved in some of people’s most important life events.
“A day in our office is so varied and so interesting,” says DeSimone. “We provide an affordable and flexible way to hold your special event at one of Bellingham’s iconic waterfront locations.”
One great thing about renting one of the Port of Bellingham’s facilities is the freedom to do absolutely anything you want for your catering at most locations. The facilities managed by the Port of Bellingham Meeting and Events department include the Squalicum Boathouse, the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, the Blaine Boating Center and the parks owned by the Port of Bellingham.
Jerry McGarity, who has been with the Port of Bellingham for over ten years, knows all about the life events held at each of the Port of Bellingham spaces because he has been at nearly all of them. McGarity ensures that each facility is opened and closed for each of the events. It is easy to find him because he is the one with the keys and the cell phone ready to help. He is always on call to make sure that the customer has whatever they need to ensure a successful event.
As an actor who ran The Neighborhood Playhouse, Jerry McGarity is an icon in the community. He takes great pride in Port buildings and parks. “It’s such a great joy for me to be able to help folks with their events,” McGarity says. “Whether it’s a wedding, a company party or a celebration of life, I feel honored to be a small part of it.”
This sentiment is visible in all aspects of the community outreach efforts of the Port of Bellingham’s Meeting and Events Division.
The rates and policies of the property locations are set by the Port Commission. DeSimone explains that they are based on market rates that are competitive yet do not undercut the available locations in the private sector of the community. The fair rental rates make these locations available to a wide variety of community members. With a simple process of a reservation, rental agreement and insurance, anyone can be set to host their event and invite their guests.
Providing incredible locations with spectacular views for the community to hold their special events, corporate meetings or parties at an affordable rate is an opportunity the staff takes great pride in. The next time you have an event to host, check out the Port of Bellingham locations for some amazing options.