Mark Christopher (kneeling) was knighted the first Knight of Seafair 2013 in a ceremony at Westlake Park on Friday, June 21. Queen Alcyone (Jennifer Roth) and King Neptune (Jonathan Poneman) chose Christopher to be the first knight. Photo by Sarah Radmer
Every king and queen needs a knight — or 50.
Seafair’s King Neptune and Queen Alcyone (Jonathan Poneman and Jennifer Roth, respectively, this year) have dubbed their first 2013 knight in a black blazer, and it’s former Queen Anne and current Magnolia resident Mark Christopher. The knighting ceremony followed the announcement of this year’s king and queen at a ceremony in Westlake Park on Friday, June 21.
It’s a tradition that dates back to Seafair’s beginning in 1950, Seafair CEO Beth Knox said.
“The knighting is an opportunity for the king and queen to recognize individuals who’ve made contributions to the Northwest,” she explained. “The knightings are a reflection of the community spirit that Seafair brings.”
Each year, the king and queen pick about 50 community members to knight throughout the six weeks of Seafair festivities.
The criteria are loose, Knox said: It’s just about recognizing someone who has given back to the community. Over the years, the knights have ranged from humble community members to local celebrities, like former Mariners pitcher Jamie Moyer.
Christopher was selected to be knighted first for 2013 because of his involvement with Seafair throughout the years. He was knighted the “Duke of Dialogue, Ducks & Doubloons.”
Christopher said he is honored to be this year’s first knight.
“It’s a way for someone to say, ‘Good job, Mark. You’re still like a kid,’” he said.
The title doesn’t involve any additional responsibilities, he said, other than being addressed as “Sir Mark Christopher” throughout Seafair.
Christopher grew up in Queen Anne, making hydroplanes in his garage that he pulled to the races behind his bike at Seafair each year. An alumnus of Queen Anne High School, he stayed in the neighborhood until high school, before briefly leaving Seattle to gain experience in radio. He came back in 1982, and he’s been here ever since. Now he lives in Magnolia and works as a morning-show host for Warm 106.9.
In the ‘70s, he was a server at the Edgewater Hotel, where he rubbed elbows with the hydroplane drivers and celebrities like Bernie Little and Bill Muncey. When he returned in the ‘80s, he volunteered as the pit announcer at the races for two years. His claim to fame there was putting a TV in the tower so the referees could see the whole race, instead of trying to follow the action through binoculars.
From the mid-‘80s, he was recruited by the Seafair Pirates, and for five years he “waterskied” on a pair of skis fashioned to skates on the back of the pirate ship through the streets of Seattle. He was one of the three pirates to raise the first Jolly Roger flag to the top of the Space Needle.
“If you were in Seattle,” Christopher said, “Seafair was a big deal.”
Over the years he’s remained committed to Seafair. For Christopher, it’s all about the volunteers who put in the work to make all 75 events happen.
“Seafair was a way for me as an adult to be a kid again,” he said. “I tried that adult thing — it was the most horrifying 15 minutes in my life. “
Always a kid
Now, Warm 106.9 is a media partner for Seafair, so Christopher will put in “countless hours” between now and the end of Seafair in August. He’ll host events, and the Seafair Pirates are trying to talk him into joining his mates once again on their plundering convoy.
The Warm 106.9 partnership comes after a long history of restricting access by media outlets, Christopher said. He plans to “make it so much fun that they come back year after year.”
“Now I can play and maybe bring some of the ideas that they know I have,” he said.
One thing Christopher is most excited about for this year’s Seafair is his entry in the Torchlight Parade. He and the Warm 106.9 staff willl ride a fire truck from 1913 that was one of Seattle’s first running fire trucks.
Christopher plans to keep acting like a kid and participating in Seafair “just as long as they need me,” he said.
This year, for Seafair, all Christopher wants is a “successful festival, including all of the communities and neighborhoods that make those events happen.”
For information on all of the upcoming Seafair events, visit Seafair.com. To hear Mark Christopher’s coverage of the events, tune into Warm 106.9 or check out its website: warm1069.com.
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