Celebrate Bainbridge means a great weekend of fun on Bainbridge Island.
And according to Jerri Lane, executive director for the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association, the new title “Celebrate Bainbridge” is something that planners hope will grow.
“It just so happened that all three of the main events of the July 4th weekend fell together this year, one after another,” Lane said, referring to the Rotary Auction, July 2; the Street Dance, July 3rd; and the Grand Old July 4th Parade on July 4th. “All the sponsors, the Rotary, the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce, and the downtown association, wanted to jointly market these events. So we came up with Celebrate Bainbridge.”
Although this year the celebration is for three days only, Lane and others are hoping to build on that, and have a week-long celebration in the future with added events.
“Seafair in Seattle started out as just the (hydroplane) races,” she said. “And look what it’s grown into. We’re hoping to do that, only in a bit smaller version.”
Just why folks — both from “over the pond,” as Lane calls it, and locals — should celebrate the Fourth of July on Bainbridge is easy for her to articulate.
“We are an accredited historic main street,” she said. “We’ve retained that small town feeling — the charm and quaintness. Our celebration is so different from that mega-city experience.”
Lane said those who come to Bainbridge Island for the July 4th holiday, come by ferry and even the ferry ride is unique and beautiful.
“And then they get off the ferry and they’re greeted by friendly folks with the down home charm.”
She added that visitors should stay for awhile and take advantage of the other island delights such as the Blodel Reserve, the beaches and Lynwood Center.
As for the events of the July 4th weekend, she said the locals love them because “we don’t hire people from the Rose Bowl to put on the parade. It all comes from the hearts and minds of our residents.”
Rex Oliver, executive director of the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce, said he expects thousands to attend the parade on Monday.
“If the weather’s good, we’ll have at least 40,000,” he said.
As for just exactly what’s going to be in the parade, even he won’t know until things get underway on the Fourth.
“You know places like the Blackbird Bakery, they don’t tell us what they’re doing,” he said. “We don’t know until they show up.”
The crew from Blackbird Bakery is well known. Each year they come up with a cleaver way to show what the business is all about. In the past, they’ve been slices of pie, and forks, and have won the Buxton-Ellis Most Humorous Parade Entry Award, which includes $1,000 to the charity of the winner’s choice. Who’s gonna win this year?
“It remains to be seen,” Oliver said, adding that some of the political candidates running for office will do the Kingston parade in the morning and then drive to Bainbridge Island to be in its parade in the afternoon.
Oliver, too, is excited about seeing Celebrate Bainbridge grow to be a week-long event. But he said when the parade’s over each year, he’s ready to rest.
“It takes all of us about six months to put everything together,” he said. “The day after you’ll find me rolled up in a ball in the corner trying to recover.”
Here’s what’s planned:
On Saturday, July 2 be sure to take in the Bainbridge Island Rotary Club’s Auction & Rummage Sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Woodward Middle School. More than 150,000 items that have been donated will be for sale. Come early to get the best bargains.
On Sunday, July 3, there’s a street dance and family party downtown from 6 to 11 p.m. along Winslow Way. There’ll be live music, food booths, dancing and fun for the whole family.
Scheduled to play are the bands Hep Replacements, Buckshot and Psycho Sushi. There is also the Music Master, DJ John Wood, who plays music catered more to Tweens. And there’s kids’ events, too, like the Balloon Brothers, face painting, and sidewalk chalk.
The beer garden is a favorite spot for adults, Lane said.
“The entire event is free, other than drink and food purchases,” she said. “We’re expecting about 10,000 people to come down that night.”
This is the 29th year for the street dance.
Monday is the Grand Old 4th of July Celebration with a parade. The parade begins at 1 p.m. and follows a route going south along Madison Avenue to Winslow Way returning along Erickson Avenue. This is the 49th year for the parade that is advertised as the “Best Small Town Parade in America.”
More than 110 entries are expected in the parade which lasts about an hour. Emcees will tell about each entry from booths on Madison Avenue and Wyatt Way, Madison and Winslow Way, and further to the east on Winslow Way near the mall area.
On Monday, there’s a fun run sponsored by the Bainbridge Youth Services. Bring your family and friends. Join a team. Wear a costume. Walk or run the 1-mile race at 9 a.m., the 5K at 9:15 a.m. and the kid’s dash at 10:30 a.m. All events begin in downtown Winslow. Day-of-race registration opens at 7:30 a.m. on Winslow Green.
Other events on Monday include the Bainbridge High School Football Boosters’ pancake breakfast, food booths, beer garden, games and a car show. New this year is the “Young Artisan Marketplace” where young, eager entrepreneurs can sell items they’ve made. Youth to age 15 will display everything from paintings to pottery that they’ve made at a section on the waterfront.
Don’t forget the 9:30 a.m. Stars & Strikes Old Timers’ Baseball Game at the Bainbridge High School field.
The day finishes off with a fireworks show over Eagle Harbor at around 10:30 p.m.
The events are presented by the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce and the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association, with the help of dozens of volunteers and loyal sponsoring businesses. To see a complete list of vendors, go to www.grandold4th.com/vendors/.