There was a spot on lower Fourth Avenue downtown, on the afternoon of Dec. 9, where the cheers from the gay-marriage celebrants at City Hall and the cheers from the Seahawks fans at CenturyLink field were equally loud. And, since that particular Seahawks game was a total rout, the cheers from both sources were about as frequent.
The City Hall scene was a big, onetime-only, spectacle of civic self-congratulation (the sort of thing Seattle does as often and as chest-thumpingly as possible).
When the voters passed Referendum 74 in November, affirming the Legislature’s legalization of gay marriage, there was a 30-day waiting period for it to become law. That was on a Wednesday. The first marriage licenses were issued that night, in a midnight-madness marathon at the King County Administration Building. Then there was a three-day waiting period after that for the weddings.
Gay weddings could take place anywhere (except in certain still-disapproving churches) starting that Sunday. And they were held in many places, from the symphony hall to a yacht club to the Seattle First Baptist Church.
But to many gay and lesbian couples and their families and supporters, this day was about more than just them: It was about a whole community coming together to shout its approval.
So that’s what happened at City Hall: a big circus of mutual and self-congratulation, in which friends, relatives and even total strangers could share in the hoopla.
But at the heart of this circus were the 137 couples who were legally wed, at five different chapels set up in the building, by a corps of judges working off the clock for free (including the aptly named Judge Mary Yu). Only the couples and their immediate guests were let inside the building.
Then the couples all got to descend the big exterior stairs and be congratulated with cheers, signs and music.
Where there are mass weddings, there will be mass receptions. One was held at the Q bar on Broadway, cohosted by veteran club DJ Riz Rollins (one of the day’s happy grooms himself).
Another was at the Paramount. It had its main floor in flat, seatless mode. The floor was festooned with tables and tablecloths, from which were served complimentary cupcakes, candies, wine and cider — all donated by local merchants.
About an hour into the festivities, a series of celebrity well-wishers came on stage. Singer Mary Lambert, then Mayor McGinn, then state Sen. Ed Murray and his male companion, whom Murray announced was now his fi-ancé.
A singer named Chocolate came on to sing a dutifully soulful rendition of “At Last,” leading the ceremonial first dance for all the couples.
At this time of the year, when superfi cial wishes of love and joy are repeated to the point of meaninglessness, let us all heed the example of these couples, all their gay and straight supporters who worked to make this happen, to all before them who strove to have their love officially recognized in this way and all who will marry (or simply know they can) in the days and years to come.
After more than four years of redevelopment-related doom staring it in the face, Capitol Hill’s beloved B&O Espresso finally closed, on the same Sunday as the gay-wedding celebrations.
The B&O dates to the pre-Howard Schultz years of Seattle coffee culture. It began in 1976 and quickly became known for its sumptuous dessert items. It grew to occupy three adjacent storefront spaces in the same 1924-constructed building on Belmont Avenue and Olive Way (hence, the name). There was also a short-lived branch in the Broadway Market complex for a while.
The B&O will live on, however, in a soon-to-open Ballard location on Leary Way Northwest and might return within the new mixed-use structure to be built on the old site.
Word is another Hill coffee institution, the Bauhaus on East Pine Street, might also resurface in Ballard.
CLARK HUMPHREY is the author of “Walking Seattle” and “Vanishing Seattle.” He also writes a blog at miscmedia.com.To comment on this column, write to