The man behind the beach bubbles

Gary Larson making bubbles at Olympic Beach in September. (Photos by Doug Parrott)

Edmonds has come to know and love Gary Larson, otherwise known as “The Bubble Man.”

An Edmonds resident, Larson has been creating happy faces with his miraculous bubble making at Edmonds’ Marina Beach for over three years now. What makes these bubbles so special is that they are gigantic, as big as 10 feet in diameter. The bubbles are a mix of guar gum, baking soda and dish soap, made from recipes that can be found online.

How did Larson get into bubble making? “I saw another fella doing it and thought, ‘I’m bored with virtual reality [being on electronics all the time]…but when I go out on the beach and start blowing bubbles, the little kids start losing their minds. They just come completely unglued and their parents kind of get left in a state of awe.”

Before he was a bubble artist, Larson was a traveling comedian for 35 years, mainly performing on cruise ships. He started out with no experience in comedy, at an open mic comedy night in which he ended up performing right after Robin Williams. After laughing a bit about just how hard that act was to follow, Larson said he “went on to cry myself to sleep that night because of how bad it was…”. But even after a disappointing start, Larson persisted, a theme that has resonated throughout his lifetime.

“When I go out on the beach and start blowing bubbles, the little kids start losing their minds,” Larson says.

That persistence also showed up soon after retirement, when Larson began to writing crossword puzzles and sending them into the New York Times for publication. After mailing in 50 puzzles and getting rejection after rejection, he finally had a puzzle published.

Asked why he keeps making bubbles, Larson replied: “If you like what you do you’ll never work a day in your life.” Some people have suggested that he put a can out and work for tips, “but I can’t do that, because then it won’t be fun anymore,” Larson said. “I’ll feel like I have to do it and I won’t be able to enjoy it.”

— By Ariana Burr

Ariana Burr is an Edmonds-Woodway High School student interning for My Edmonds News.

  1. The bubbles may be beautiful, but they are also polluting. The soap bubbles pop and the soap goes into Puget Sound. Soap is a major polluting substance that causes algae blooms and kills marine life. Mr. Larson has been dumping buckets of soapy water into Puget Sound for the past 3 years.

    1. Rock on bubble man! I’m a bubble guy from the Midwest and find that blowing bubbles for others brings an amazing amount of joy and happiness to this messed up world we dwell in. I’ll can professionally attest that the amount of harmful soaps snd chemicals found in most big bubble solutions used today are no more harmful than what you would wash your hair with or bath with! It’s a fact. I’m quite certain the bubble mans only intentions are to spread joy and happiness and not to upset to eco system of the world! I love this guy…….keep on bubbl’in

      1. I love your positive response. My 3 yr old grandson was all smiles when we ended up at Edmonds Beach this summer when Bubble Man was in full swing. I hope he continues to do what he enjoys. Bringing joy to others is huge, especially these days. Thank you Mr. Larson!

  2. I love the Bubble Man. It is fun to watch the crowd interact with the humongous bubbles he blows. Yes, kids lose their minds and it redirects the minds of the adults to a fun bit of artistic whimsy. It is a great stress reliever. Thanks for sharing your talent with others.

  3. Does he have a schedule or some way to know when he will be at the beach so we can bring the grandchildren?

  4. I’ve seen the Bubble Man’s work from the ferry and even from a distance the bubbles are captivating. I’m pretty sure the soap in Puget Sound is primarily from restaurants and households that are using highly concentrated cleaning solutions, bleach, ammonia, and these elements collect in the wastewater system which feeds into our waterways, and ultimately into Puget Sound. Let’s work on cleaning up the major polluters and let the Bubble Man and our children have their fun.

  5. Are there certain times that he does this? I have a grandson with Down Syndrome, a lot of kid activities don’t work for him, but he’d LOVE this!

  6. Just to clarify: Any soap that goes down your household sewage drain is treated in the municipal sewage plant before it goes into Puget Sound. This treatment process uses bacteria to “eat” the nitrogen and other harmful chemicals in the soap. The sewage effluent that is discharged into Puget Sound must meet strict environmental standards. The soap used in outdoor bubbles goes directly into Puget Sound. Especially in this case since this man makes the soap bubbles on the beach.

  7. I LOVE the Bubble Man. Thank you for the fun, happiness, and escape you bring to us all…kids and old alike. We are so lucky to have you here doing what brings positive thoughts and happy happy smiles! Thanks Gary.

  8. We love the Bubbleman! Also, to clarify on his behalf, he does not dump bubbles into the sound. He goes up and uses a sink in a building on the boardwalk. Which as someone else pointed out, gets treated as any dishwater does going down a sink. He also blows the bubbles away from the water towards the beach. I think we have bigger fish to fry in the pollution game than the Bubbleman.

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