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Parade emerges from the rubble

This year
This year's Chamber of Commerce parade takes a slightly new route to the 44-year-old island tradition.
— image credit: Courtesy Image

The Bainbridge procession to celebrate America’s birthday has an important overriding message:

When construction cramps your parade, you just make a new route.

So if you see someone reserving their spot on Winslow Way in the early hours of July 4, give a helpful heads-up that the parade found a new direction.

All 90 entries in the Chamber of Commerce parade will get a slightly new twist on a 44-year-old tradition. The adjusted route will be accompanied by all the usual festivities, including the street fair, car show and fireworks display.

As usual, it will all happen in downtown Winslow starting at 7 a.m. with the traditional pancake breakfast at Town & Country.

“We have people who haven’t missed this parade in 20 years,” said director of operations and marketing Andrea Mackin. “It’s synonymous with summer and  deeply rooted in our community. This year will be no  different.”

Making this year’s party a reality wasn’t easy. A delayed Winslow Way construction project forced the parade to come up with an alternate route, and funding, amongst other concerns, led to a one-year hiatus of the chamber’s traditional street dance.

A lack of funding threatened the Eagle Harbor Yacht Club’s fireworks show, and this year’s volunteer efforts were stretched thin with the Rotary Auction happening on the same weekend.

But the Bainbridge community didn’t hesitate to find a way to make the show go on despite all the confusion surrounding the construction project.

“The biggest challenge was getting the word out that the parade is still happening,” said Mackin. “There was just enough uncertainty around the street that some people have drawn conclusions that the parade wasn’t happening.”

Eagle Harbor Inn owner Bonnie McBryan fielded numerous cancellation calls from guests who feared a construction mess for the Fourth of July.

“I’ve had at least a dozen cancellations in the last three weeks where people said the construction or lack of a Fourth of July parade were the reasons,” said McBryan. “We’ve had to work hard to keep business.”

Mackin said that despite advertisements in local publications, email blasts and a display on the Town & Country reader board, she has heard from people who are surprised to learn the parade is still a go.

Those who don’t get the message will certainly miss a good show.

The parade will begin at 1 p.m. sharp at its traditional starting point near the Bainbridge Public Library on Madison Avenue and continue south on Madison past Winslow Way, ending on the corner of Madison and Bjune Street, where Bon Bon Confections and Rooster’s Café are located.

The summer event typically attracts around 30,000 spectators, and the chamber expects to see about the same number this year. Volunteers will help update visitors on the new route and changes.

The chamber waited to decide on the parade route as late as possible in hopes that the construction team would finish Winslow Way to allow the parade to go on as originally planned.

The city had cut it close by predicting the road would be paved and ready to go by July 1, but construction is now at least three weeks behind schedule.

Regardless, Mackin expects the parade to be just as enjoyable along its new route.

“It will be interesting to see how a smaller square footage space will accommodate the same number of people,” Mackin said. “People have found some pretty creative vantage points to view the parade.”

The third annual Arnold Jackson Memorial Fireworks display will begin at dusk, or around 10 p.m.

As of Thursday, the newly formed nonprofit organization, Bainbridge Island Fireworks, which took over the display from the Eagle Harbor Yacht Club, raised around $20,000.

The goal was to reach $25,000, to secure money for 2012, and organizers will continue to accept donations through the weekend.

Project manager Scott Isenman said the community’s support and many generous sponsors, such as Doc’s Marina Grill and San Carlos Restaurant, made the show possible.

Spectators can listen to the show on the low-power 107.3 FM station in the Eagle Harbor viewing area.

A Pritchard Park beach clean-up party will be held between 8-9 a.m. on July 5 to remove display debris and trash from the waterfront celebrations. Bainbridge Disposal donated a dumpster for the cause.

For the first time, the fireworks event was also given a small $250 grant by the Kitsap County Fire Chiefs Association. The grant is given to several other community fireworks displays because they encourage people to attend group events instead of individual firework usage.

Firework organizers recommend viewing the show from Waterfront Park or the ferry terminal.

Pritchard Park is an option, but due to a lack of parking it is best for foot traffic only.

Packard and Ward Avenues are closed during the event.

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