Well I had to do it. I had to see what Jake Locker Day in Ferndale was all about. Mostly it was what you’d expect — a nice, traditional small-town American parade and festival. Quintessential Mid-America except for the fact we’re a half-hour from Canada.
And the only other difference was this one had the potential No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL Draft riding in the headlining fire truck.
Locker rode in the truck (pictured at right) with UW teammates Cody Habben and Ryan Tolar and former teammate Paul Homer standing on the back ledge (though heavily buckled in). Locker’s father, Scott, drove the FernDawg mobile behind the fire truck. The parade wound a mile or so through Ferndale, lasting maybe 20 minutes. (Should clarify that it was the route that lasted only 20 minutes or so — the entire parade lasted 90 minutes or so). We were told Jake Locker wanted the attention on the town and the parade, so we didn’t do any official interviews with him.
Indicative of how tight-knit a town of 12,000 can be, Locker’s mom, Anita, works in the office for Ferndale mayor Gary Jensen, and that’s how the idea of a Jake Locker Day began.
“It really was a way for Ferndale to say “thank you, Jake,”’ Jensen said, adding he expects Locker to likely not be available the next 15 years or so, instead preparing for a training camp somewhere. “It was a last chance to say ‘thank you.’ He kind of comes home and people around here treat Jake different than other places because its home for him. But this is one event where we put him out there out front. Jake would just as soon hide in the back there.”
Scott Locker said it was simply nice to have Jake home for a weekend.
“I see him on TV more than I see him live anymore, which is fine, too,” said Scott Locker. “But it’s cool when he can come home and hang out.”
There were lots of purple 10 jerseys in sight, and Jensen estimated that the crowd was a little larger than normal, which he figured was due to the presence of Locker. I talked to a few UW fans who made the trek from Seattle, as well as one group from Texas who is in the area visiting family and decided to take in the parade, which is the highlight of the 115-year old Old Settlers celebration. It began as a way for farmers to take a weekend off at what was basically the midway point of the crop planting and harvesting season, Jensen said.
On this day, one more seed for what the Huskies hope is a long Heisman campaign was sown.
Here are a few more scenes from the day:
Below, the local Rite Aid shows its support for Locker’s Heisman campaign:
Below, Jake and his dog, Ten, meet some young fans, with Habben paving the way in front, all in front of the FernDawg:
Scott Locker holds the official Jake Locker Day proclamation:
Below, a view of Washington Street as the Locker-led fire truck takes off (you can see Homer, Habben and Tolar riding along the back):
Below, the Ferndale police brought in some extra help this weekend to keep the large crowd in check:
Locker will return to Seattle in a day or so, then take off for New York where he will be one of four Pac-10 QBs (the others are Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley and Nick Foles) to accompany the 10 conference coaches to a conference media day with ESPN. The coaches and other players then head to LA for the official Pac-10 Conference media day in Pasadena on Thursday. However, linebacker Mason Foster will represent UW at that event.