I can still picture the Hamilton Street of my college yesteryears like it was yesterday and not in fact two years ago.
I see my best friend Kate’s house, one dangerous cross walk in front of speedy motorists from the university. I walk north a few blocks and run into Jack and Dans, a time honored Gonzaga establishment. The kind of place that manages to be popular with both the 40 over crowd and recent acquirers of a horizontal Washington State driver’s license. Across the street is Pita Pit, the only place that stays open later than the bars, until a respectable 3:00 a.m. Popular with stoners, hippies, and drunk college students alike. Next to ‘Pita’ is The Bulldog (Rest in Peace) where I once happily chugged an entire pitcher of Miller Lite when I didn’t have tickets to the annual Gonzaga-Wazzu game. One parking lot over is The Star Bar, popular on Thursdays and home to exceptionally bad karaoke. They also claimed to have Chinese food, but that’s questionable. There’s The Hammy Mart where I bought my first and last Four Loko (Rest in Peace) and there’s Geno’s Pizza. A place my friend Boone worked at briefly until they fired him for having a broken collarbone. Their pizza sucked apparently. It’s difficult to forget Safeway, rumored to be the most expensive one in Washington State. I don’t know anyone who bought all their groceries there. There’s the ‘hippie store’ and the Ionic Burrito, or maybe Iconic? Ironic Burrito? I can’t remember. But of all my favorite establishments on Hamilton, Donut Parade takes the cake.
Or rather, donut I should say.
Donut Parade is an unsuspecting, red bricked building. There’s nothing fancy or remotely modern about it. It has one large window often painted with the picture of a happy looking donut and coffee cup holding hands. There’s an electric ‘Open’ or ‘Closed’ sign and their phone number written in window paint above that. ‘Donut Parade’ itself is written in all caps, childlike handwriting, with stars instead of holes in the appropriate places on the wall of the building. On the other side is the sign again, with mention of the fact that Donut Parade was established in 1968.
And it’s felt. To walk in is to feel time warped back to that turbulent year of assassinations and demonstrations. Not to say that the atmosphere in Donut Parade will remind you of any of that. With its big booths, furniture, utensils, and equipment it’s just that there’s nothing to suggest that Donut Parade even made it through the new millennium. The entire place and I mean the entire place, looks as I imagine it might have looked in 1968. Its usual crowd is made up of likely the same people who inhabited it in its infancy as most other diners look like Vietnam veterans or people who could tell a good story. My friends and I were often the youngest people in the shop.
It’s definitely family friendly though. The entire counter where you order and pay is lined with colored pictures and scribbles of the standard Donut Parade coloring sheet. Many times when I went there would be families or children on their way to school, in for a quick fix. It’s also the kind of place where people call you ‘honey.’ In fact I was so excited on my first trip in that my server gave me a maple bar for free when I told her how long I’d been wanting to check out Donut Parade.
The donuts themselves? Cheap. So cheap. And classic. So classic. As donuts reach heightened popularity in recent years with the commercialized Krispy Kreme enterprise and the hipster flocking Mecca of Voo Doo Donuts in Portland, Donut Parade has stayed true to its roots. There are no frills about it. The coffee comes strong and the refills are plenty.
It’s the kind of place where you could sit and revel in the beauty of a snow day in college with your friends, before you reacquaint yourself with the realities of exams and impending graduation woes. Where you could talk about Spring Break plans instead and the latest gossip from the Logan Neighborhood. Which is exactly what I did one week day during my senior year of college with some friends.
It’s homey and welcoming. The kind of place that all donut shops should aspire to.
And to be quite frank, it’s a damned fun parade.