They came. Women and men. Young and old. From all walks of life, each with their own reason for being there.
Kitsap County was well represented last Saturday at the Seattle Womxn’s March which saw a crowd estimated to be more than 150,000 people.
Marchers from Bainbridge Island and from Bremerton were aboard Washington State ferries by 8:45 a.m., carrying signs and wearing pink pussycat hats.
Still more marchers arrived by ferry in Seattle just after 10 a.m. coming from Poulsbo, Silverdale, Bremerton, and even Port Townsend and Port Angeles.
Many of the marchers from Bainbridge began their day at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church downtown and walked along Winslow Way to the ferry terminal where a crowd had already gathered. Those going to Seattle filled the raised walkway as well as the sidewalk and ramp below.
Among those going to Seattle was Ginni Hawkins, of Bainbridge.
“I’m marching to stand up for all disenfranchised and maligned people,” Hawkins said. “It’s time to do this. It’s obvious we’re in jeopardy, women and people of color.”
A trio of teachers from Blakely Elementary School headed for the ferry. Brittany Hilborn, Meghan Berg and Karen Keller wore pink pussycat hats and said they were participating because they wanted to show support for women’s rights.
“This is my first time doing anything like this,” Hilborn said.
“Hopefully this will send the message that we’re not just going to sit by for the next four years,” said Keller.
John Johnston and his 13-year-old son, and 9-year-old daughter, were participating in the Seattle march, while his wife was marching in Washington, D.C.
“It just wasn’t feasible for all of us to go to Washington,” said Johnston. “But this is an issue for all of us and that’s why we’re going to Seattle to march.”
For Jeanne Maier, of Bainbridge, it’s a matter of respect. She knitted and sewed more than 50 pink pussycat hats and was handing them out to those who wanted them. She made only one baby-sized hat and found Misha Kutzman and her daughter Cora. Maier handed little Cora the hat.
“It’s perfect,” said Misha. “We’re having Cora’s first birthday party today, so that’s why we aren’t going to Seattle. But we came out to see them off.”
Maier said she was headed to Seattle to march because she’s worried about those in the U.S. who are the focus of President Donald Trump.
“I believe in social justice,” she said. “And I am my brother’s keeper. Not everyone can earn a living. We have to all stand up and help those who need it.”
Also standing in unison with the marchers was Alison Sherwin, 13, a student at Woodward Middle School.
“Personally, I don’t agree with what he’s (Trump) doing about abortion,” she said. “Women should have the right to do what they want with their own bodies.”
Current politics hasn’t been discussed much at school, but she’s had discussions with her parents at home.
“We did watch the inauguration on TV at school on Friday,” she added.
As 8:40 a.m. approached, marchers were lined up at the ferry, flanked by supporters who thanked them for going to Seattle. Some said other commitments kept them from being able to go.
Onboard, marchers mingled and shared their reasons for going to the march. They complimented each other on their pink pussycat hats, which denoted Trump’s comments about grabbing women by the genitals that were caught on tape and turned out to be a bombshell revelation late in the campaign.
For Lynn Anderson, who came from Silverdale with her sons, Derill, 17, and Donterill, 7, it was all about making a statement.
“I want my boys to know that women have to be respected, and that we all have to stand up for what’s right,” Anderson said. “I want the president to know that we have respect for all people. Both my boys are special needs and I didn’t like how Trump made fun of someone with special needs. That can’t be tolerated.”
Wendy Johnson, of Bainbridge, took a positive approach to what she wrote on her sign. It read: “I am not giving up. Neither should you.”
“This affirms that this is not the end,” she said. “Don’t put a period where God has placed a comma.”
She also made black arm bands and painted in white “So Sad” and an image of the Twitter bird.
“It’s a play on his words, on how he (Trump) says ‘So Sad,’” she said. “I’m giving his words back to him.”
The 8:45 a.m. boat to Seattle was packed, but just below its capacity for 2,499 passengers, according to an official with Washington State Ferries. Loading all of the walk-ons put the ferry about 15 minutes behind schedule.
During the short ride to Seattle, the ship’s decks had a festive feel as islanders found other folks from Bainbridge they hadn’t seen in years.
Many were carrying signs: “Don’t mess w/ the mommas,” “Our rights are not up for grabs, and neither are we,” “Lock Him Up” and “Hate won’t make us great.”
In one booth, Kristin Tollefson was still coloring in a sign with her daughter, Anna Scott.
The sign said, “I Am A Nasty Woman.”
Why make the trip into Seattle?
“Let me count the ways,” Tollefson said.
“It’s extremely important to show up,” she said, adding that she was marching for her 94-year-old grandmother who couldn’t make the trip, as well as a son who couldn’t go.
“This is a historic day,” added Susan Roach, who was dressed as a “kitty cat” in a furry outfit.
“We need to stand together. Men, women, everyone,” she said.
As the boat reached Seattle, the captain announced that because of the large crowd, walkaboards could exit by the normal route or from the car deck, following the cars. Hundreds of walkers marched across the car deck cheered on by those who already had exited. Then they began the climb up Madison Street to assemble at Judkins Park for the 11 a.m. official start to the march.
On the next ferry from Bainbridge, Nicole Blake and Kelly Smith, of Poulsbo, said they were joining the march to stand up for women’s rights.
“Women’s rights, for sure,” Blake said. “I just heard that he’s already signing laws and this is just his first day in office. It’s pretty scary.”
Carolyn Guttman and Megan Fugate, from Bremerton, and Darcy McKnight, of Gig Harbor, came over from Bremerton together to protest the election of Donald Trump.
“I’m here for my parents,” said McKnight. “I’m fearful he’s going to cut Medicare and Social Security.”
Fugate, a Navy veteran, fought back tears as she spoke about being a Navy brat and living in fascist countries.
“My father was a cryptologist,” she said. “He was in the Navy and we lived all over the world. I can recognize fascism when I see it and it’s the same things as what Trump is saying. I’m scared.”
Guttman said that she was marching because she supports women’s right to choose.
“He’s (Trump) a fascist and I can see it,” she said. “We’re all very fearful.”
A group of women from Port Townsend came on the 10 a.m. ferry from Bainbridge to stand for Planned Parenthood, the three women said. In all, four buses of people came from Port Townsend to the Bainbridge ferry terminal, bringing 140 to march on Saturday in Seattle. The women, Kim, Jeanette and Lesley didn’t want to give their last names, but said they came because Trump needs to hear their message.
“This is a positive way to do that,” Lesley said.
Behind them, Julia Franks carried a sign that read, “Unpresidential.”
“I’m a human being and I’m in solidarity with all these women,” Franks said. “This is empowering and it’s taking action. And this is just the beginning.”
What was apparent was that those who came to march had various reasons for being there. Signs had anti-Trump messages, messages of love, protecting Mother Earth, and supporting education and the arts.
The overwhelming majority of the signs gave messages of inclusion of all women, all races, the disabled, Muslims and Native Americans.
The march in Seattle was a “sister march” to the Women’s March on Washington in the nation’s capital, where media reports put the crowd as three times as large as the audience that gathered for the Trump inauguration.
In Seattle, the march for more than four hours, culminating at Seattle Center where speeches were given about the causes supported by the marchers. Estimates put the crowd size at 150,000 or higher.
A good number of the Kitsap marchers returned to Bainbridge Island on the 4:40 p.m. ferry. Looking tired but proud, they shared their experiences with each other. One couple carrying an anti-Trump banner paraded throughout the ferry, stopping for several photos. As the ferry approached Bainbridge, the captain came on the intercom.
“Can I have your attention, please … thank you.”
Many on the ferry laughed. Then, apparently aware that the speakers had cut out in the middle of his message, the captain came on again.
“Perhaps you didn’t hear me. I wanted to say thank you for what you’ve done today,” he said.
The crowd aboard cheered.
Review reporter Brian Kelly contributed to this report.