For the better part of the last decade during the North American summer, Kelly McGarry called the Pacific Northwest home. He was a kiwi snowbird, flying north to escape the cold and chase the perfect weather and tacky dirt that Cascadia is known for in the warmer months. With stints between Whistler and Seattle and with frequent travels to Oregon, Utah and British Columbia’s interior, Kelly's presence was something we looked forward to each year.
Knowing we won't see the gentle giant again is hard. Accepting that we won't laugh with him again is heartbreaking. But knowing Kelly would want us to be happy instead of in mourning, we opted to honor him in the way we thought he'd most appreciate: by throwing a massive party. Held on March 19 in Bellingham, Washington, more than 200 people showed their love for the big guy by donning McGazza-inspired wigs, singing to his favorite punk songs and sharing stories of the crazy antics that happen when you travel with a small crew for weeks on end.
(Words of Eric Porter)
Prior to the party, more than 60 people gathered at the top of Chuckanut Mountain to toast a cold one and honor Kelly. Eventually snaking down the mountain to hoots and hollers, the memorial ride was nothing short of spectacular. We were treated to perfect dirt, Kelly's closest Northwest friends and laughter the length of the entire trail.
(Words of Mike Lawless)
In spite of an hour-plus border wait, numerous Canadians made the trek south to make a full weekend of sharing stories about Kelly and sampling some of Bellingham's best trails (and beer). Friends traveled from as far away as Utah and Bend, Oregon to join in the festivities.
Micayla Gatto, Jill Kintner, Linnea Rooke, Danielle Baker and Katie Holden spent the evening crafting a custom photo booth, complete with hilarious props, to help people pay tribute in a silly and lighthearted way.
(Words of Micayla Gatto)
Kelly's girlfriend, Sammy Hitchcock, sent a touching note which was read by Kelly's former team manager and close friend, Jon Kennedy. Her words were somber but hopeful, and she encouraged everyone to live their lives the way Kelly did: full of love, laughter and kindness.
A huge thanks goes out to the amazing companies that donated to the raffle and to Kulshan Brewing Company for donating the event space. With the help of raffle and beer sales we were able to donate over $5,000 to the Kelly McGarry Memorial Trust.
While we may never see his toothy grin again, or hear him spit-balling impromptu rap lyrics, we know Kelly will live on in our hearts and in our sport forever.