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Magnolia Voice Article

Everybody knows a character. Someone who is quirky, idiosyncratic or just a little different. These are the people who make life interesting and we want to introduce you to a real character who lives in Magnolia. Hold onto your snorkel.

Howard Garton is a 50-year-old brick layer – a mason if you prefer – and a craftsman of the highest order, he says with a laugh. When Howard, who takes his pet pig Bonita to work every day, works on a chimney in the area, the rest of the neighbors make a pilgrimage to ask him, “Can you do mine too?”

But this isn’t a tale of a skillful brick layer. This is a story about a character.

During his off time, our certified Magnolia eccentric rides a “personal watercraft” 75 miles-an-hour anywhere from Elliott Bay to the Canadian border, depending on his mood.

In the wind and waves, Howard zips up and down the sound riding a jet-ski for an environmental cause. Scooping up garbage, old nets, and anything polluting our salty front porch, Howard hauls it in with a twist that turns him into a character.

You see, our environmental good guy has an alter-ego.

With a two-foot-long dorsal fin protruding from the back of his wetsuit, our plucky brick layer becomes OrcaMan, super hero and grime fighter!

Beloved by ferry riders, beach combers, and children with mouths agape, OrcaMan plies the waves for, “goodness, not badness.” Even the Coast Guard gives him a friendly nod as they plow past the intrepid refuse collector.

Before you snarky-types comment about a guy with an environmental message riding a gas-operated water buggy, OrcaMan says he’s working on a solar powered water craft. And remember, this is a story about a character.

You can witness OrcaMan for yourself this summer when he appears with his buddies, the SeaFair Pirates at Seattle events.

Additionally, a soon-to-be self-published comic book is about to turn our soggy, litter hero into a funny pages rock star. Any monies collected will be donated to charity.

On the horizon, watch for OrcaMan to jet-ski from here all the way to Alaska, filling bags of detritus along the route. A reality TV show is planned to record the event with the help of a soon-to-be found sponsor to cover costs.

Howard sums up his ride into Magnolia history with, “I have yet to grow up.” Something to which we could all aspire. Click here to visit OrcaMan’s website.

Thanks to contributor Steven Smalley for this article and photos!

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