1961 Greater Seattle Inc Stationary, list of Board Members 1961 Greater Seattle Inc Stationary, top section
 

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THE GREATER SEATTLE STORY

     The saga of Greater Seattle, Inc. has, like all stories, a beginning; but there's no end to their 14-year record of civic accomplishment and service to the community.

     Behind the show-business glamour that surrounds the Greater Seattle scene is a history of imagination, tenacity, and simple hard work. As the promotion group explores the trails of new ideas and expansion, this background will be the lifeblood of Seattle's future.

     How did this come about?

     "Necessity," as the poet says, "is the mother of invention," and in the years following the second World War it became apparent that Seattle needed something to stimulate its summertime activity, as well as tell the story of the city's maritime flavor.

     The early stages of the "invention" were prompted by a group of Seattle-area marine dealers, headed largely by Jerry Bryant and the late Latham Goble. Acting on the area's claim to the title of "Boating Capital of the World," the idea grew immediately into an organization known as the Seattle Salts, a band of civic-minded, promotion-conscious men whose names were synonymous with public action.

     At the same time, other Seattle folk became aware that a centennial anniversary of the city was due in 1951-52. Mayor William F. Devin named George Gunn, Jr., as the man to "get something going" to mark the forthcoming historic event.

     It was inevitable that the two groups should merge, and from the union sprung Greater Seattle, Inc., a non-profit corporation, Gunn was president and Bryant vice president.

     The foundation had been laid, but who was to build the program. This was a job for a "pro" and the search for the right man ended in St. Paul when the group hired a Twin Cities showman named Walter A. Van Camp.

     Van Camp had successfully directed the famous Winter Carnival and the "ins" and "outs" of civic celebrations were his tour de force. However, the challenge in Seattle was enormous: Put together a centennial and then organize an annual celebration, one that would capture the imagination and pump new pride and interest into the veins of the community.

     With some valuable assistance from Guy Williams, a Seattle writer, publicist and idea man, Van Camp set the curtain-raiser for the summer of 1950, a year ahead of the centennial.

     Based on a make-believe legend of Pirates versus King Neptune and his Royal Court, Seafair was born, and it was considered a success the first time out. The contrast, however, between Seafair, 1950, and Seafair, today, is as different as day and night.

     Seafair's sub-plot was quietly developing at the same time, and from a cocoon of nuts, bolts, props and airplane engines emerged an oddly-designed speedboat bearing the improbable name of Slo-mo-shun IV. Bankrolled by the late automotive magnate, Stanley S. Sayres, the sleek flagship of what was to become the most famous fleet in racing history, was the progeny of Seattle designer Ted Jones.

     The combination proved to be unbeatable as the "Gallant Lady" began a career that re-shaped hydro history and provided a common bond upon which Seafair could draw much-needed inspiration.

     World speed marks fell before the breath-taking rushes of the Slo-Mo, and when Sayres piloted the craft to victory in the Gold Cup race on the Detroit River it provided the footnote that made the Seafair legend reality.

     The introduction of unlimited hydroplane racing to the Seattle sports scene caught on like wildfire and a police-estimated crowd of 500,000 turned Lake Washington's colorful shoreline into a curious mass of humanity hungry for speed and thrills. They got both and the big thunder boats became the final day highlight of the ten-day Seafair.

     There were other big milestones in the Greater Seattle success story, such as the famous "Welcome Lane" for Korean War veterans. Many of those returning GI's will never forget Seattle's hospitality.

     This hospitality has been extended to the VIP set, also. The red-carpet treatment has gone out to such distinguished visitors as President John F. Kennedy, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, Haile Selassie, General Douglas MacArthur, Japan's Crown Prince Akihito and many, many more. During the World's Fair, Jack Gordon, public relations director for Greater Seattle, organized the Plaza of the States programs which honored governors of the nation and saluted each state with a stirring, colorful program.

     But the backbone of Greater Seattle and Seafair is an unsung band of volunteer workers. The corporation is composed of 100 unpaid officers and directors who devote a tremendous amount of time and effort shaping the policy of the corporation,

     Aside from eight year-round employees and a supplemental staff of summertime help, all other activity is handled by volunteers. There are 150 to 200 events during the ten-day Seafair, which is normally scheduled for the first week in August. These events are presented by 102 committees with a membership of 3,000 workers.

     But of all the volunteers, perhaps the most outstanding are the Seafair Commodores. A group of 60 young Seattle business and professional men, the Commodores serve as official fund raisers and as official greeters for Greater Seattle, Inc.

     A 100-man board of directors has served under civic-leader volunteer presidents such as Gunn, Jerry Bryant, E. L. Blaine, Jr., R. C. "Torchy" Torrance, Stanly Donogh, George Kachlein, Jr., and Dallas Donnan.

     Many of these volunteers work in the "pits" at the hydroplane races, or on special committees of the co-sponsoring Seattle Yacht Club, but the bulk of the volunteers backbone the heavy calendar of participant events.

     These minor events serve two purposes. Firstly, each sport or hobby group attracts numbers of people who otherwise would not be actual participants in the program. Secondly, each in its way contributes to the ever-increasing flow of national publicity.

     Contract Bridge is a good example. A Contract Bridge tournament in a water festival may seem incongruous, but a check into the operation of that group will show that they have city, district, and division offices. They have, of course, national offices in New York. That office publishes a monthly magazine with a circulation of one and one-quarter million, A Seafair Contract Bridge tournament  will be mentioned at least three or four times during a year in the columns of that magazine.

     Imagine, then, the tremendous publicity that flowed from this city when Greater Seattle, Inc. brought the American Bowling Congress to Seattle in 1954. A total of 16,000 bowlers from all over the United States and Canada competed in a program lasting 44 days. The amount of words that were sent by the wire services and through special coverage defy estimation. National Figure Skating, tennis, golf, badminton championships also come to Seattle under Greater Seattle auspices.

     Greater Seattle, Inc. lists three prime tenets for its operation: 1. to organize the citizens for the common good; 2. by our activities to make Seattle a more exciting place in which to live; 3, to do a job of selling Pacific Northwest assets which will result in a flow of tourist dollars into the coffers of the city's business.

    To accomplish these ends, Greater Seattle supplemented its already gigantic program by entering the field of show business.  With Al Sheehan's delightfully entertaining Aqua Follies as the mainstay, Van Camp selected Gustave Stem, prominent Seattle conductor, to utilize local talent in a program of summer musicals.

     "Aqua Follies" has already proved that Seattle's outdoor Aqua Theatre, situated on a natural lake in the middle of the city, was a wonderful place to see a show, but, except for the two-week Seafair run of the Follies, it was inoperative.

     Stern went to work and it wasn't long before the Aqua Theatre was ringing with the music of Sigmund Romberg, Oscar Hammerstein, Jerome Kern, and Seattle had a summer-long entertainment program.

     The next step was inevitable, as top Broadway stars began to headline the local casts, and such names as Martha Wright, Pamela Britton, John Raitt, Bert Parks, Gisele McKenzie, and Jan Murray strode the boards of the lakeside theatre. Greatest attraction was the 1962 appearance of Bob Hope.

     Sports play a big part in the Greater Seattle program. Beginning in 1955, a pre-season professional football game has been a fixture. Powerhouse National Football League teams like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, and Minnesota have done battle in the University of Washington stadium under Greater Seattle sponsorship. And, the first Canadian pro grid contest was held in Seattle under the auspices of Greater Seattle, Inc. in 1961.

     One of the top sports events took place in 1961 when Greater Seattle and the Seattle Yacht Club held the $40,000 World's Championship Seafair Regatta for unlimited hydroplanes. Run under the revolutionary Donogh Plan, the race was an overwhelming success and went a long way towards bulwarking what appeared to be sagging interest in boat racing.

     The Boston Celtics, Minneapolis Lakers, San Francisco Warriors, and the Los Angeles Lakers have brought National Basketball Association play to Seattle as another Greater Seattle feature, while the civic group also played a promotional part in the presentation of the $50,000 Seattle Open Golf Tournament.

     Each year,  Greater Seattle, Inc., in association with nationally-known sports writers and broadcasters supervises the selection of nominees for the Stanley S. Sayres Memorial Hydroplane Hall of Fame.

      Beginning in 1959, Greater Seattle, Inc. has awarded an annual "First Citizen in Sports" trophy to a citizen who has helped foster sports programs.

      The basic financing of Greater Seattle, Inc. is through the sale of memberships: $12 for individuals, $100 for firms. While much of the Greater Seattle program is self-supporting, it still has to rely on a promotion plan that offers its members "2-for-l" ticket advantages to top shows and sports events throughout the year. If a theoretical member were to take advantage of every item offered in the package, the value would be $300 in exchange of the $12.

     It is noteworthy that during the first thirteen years of operation the total receipts amounted to $8,129,076; the total expenditures, $8,012,522. There is a surplus to date of $116,554. It is hoped that the group will continue to build a surplus to a point where it can expand activity with new major attractions during the winter months-the area's slow tourist season. A part of the present surplus will be used as "rain insurance" because experience has taught Greater Seattle that being in outdoor show business means being at the mercy of the elements.

     Future plans blueprint the 1963 Seafair as a major festival year to follow the World's Fair. The dates this year for the Seafair are from August 2 through August 11. The hydroplane race will be staged on August 11.

     There is every indication of broader participation by important festivals in all parts of the nation. Barring an international emergency, Greater Seattle expects a large contingent of American ships to add color to the marine show. Al Sheehan is now in production on Aqua Follies which will run from August 1 through August 14. Outstanding comedy acts, swimmers and divers and dancers have been booked and the show appears to be another smash hit.

     Early summer theatre includes Gretchen Wyler in the laugh-a-minute musical "Bye Bye Birdie" and two other shows are nearing the signing date.

     Greater Seattle believes that Seattle and the Puget Sound country have the kind of natural and man-made attractions which will bring out a good share of the 99,000,000 tourists who travel each year. All that needs to be done is to engage in "showmanship"--promotion, advertising and staging which makes the Seattle presentation unique, different and more outstanding than those attractions to be found in any other part of the nation.

     At stake is a $21 Billion Dollar annual tourist bankroll............... in 1962 the estimated tourist volume to our state was 441 million dollars............up, thanks to the World's Fair, over 100 million dollars. The surveys show that 60 per cent of all visitors to our state made Seattle a must stop-over city. The tourist potential then in 1963 means in round dollars an industry valued at $250 million dollars if some of the gain of 1962's fair year can be held. These dollars turn over seven times in our community which means they find their way into every avenue of trade. The breakdown of the average tourist dollar spent here shows that 27 goes for food; 21 goes for lodging; 22 goes for transportation; 14 goes for retail purchases; 11 goes for entertainment; and 5 for services. Of the money received from tourists you learn that 31 per cent is spent on salaries, wages and professional services; 29-1/2 per cent goes to farmers, food processors, retail and wholesale suppliers, printers, laundries, dry cleaning, etc; 14 per cent goes for insurance and taxes; 12-1/2 per cent goes for interest on mortgages; 6 per cent goes for furniture; 4 per cent for heat, light and power and 3 per cent for telephone.

     This, then, shows graphically how important this talk about tourism-promotion is to the economy of this area, Your investment in Greater Seattle, Inc. works as a two-way street: your money is working for you as Greater Seattle tries to increase the tourist volume and comes back to you doubled and re-doubled in dividends for the shows and other special attractions as well as in the improved business climate for everyone.

     It's no secret that the success of Greater Seattle helped develop the "can do" spirit which produced the World's Fair, and it must not end there.

     Pride in one's community and appreciation of it grows as one works with others for its progress. There is a satisfaction in "putting one's shoulder to the wheel" and helping your own city to prosper. There is fellowship in working with your own people for the common good, These are the profits our pioneer fathers in Seattle realized when the city rose like the phoenix from the ashes of the great fire and the Seattle Spirit was born.

     Don't hold back and let "the other fellow" carry the load. It's the job of all of us--not of just a few. To put over this program "takes man-power, money-power and enthusiasm." Already "GREATER SEATTLE, INC." is a going concern-it has sponsored events that have brought this city world'wide publicity--more are now in the making. You can help.

     Every man, woman, and child in Seattle has a vital interest in the program of GREATER SEATTLE. GREATER SEATTLE belongs to you!

 

 

 

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