Ever notice all those banners that usually hang on the chain-link fence in front of Safeway on High School Road? Pre-pandemic, the fence was usually adorned from one end to the other, and the banners changed regularly announcing everything from upcoming events, school registration, summer and winter programs and the occasional job posting.
That of course all changed during the pandemic, and the fence looked lonely, with only the occasional banner flapping against the links. Recently, on my regular morning walk, I noticed that the fence was once again decked out from stem to stern.
It occurred to me then, that unless you were on foot, it would be almost impossible to read everything without holding up traffic. Chances are you would be greeted with blaring horns as you slowly read your way along the fence line, or, God forbid, you might bump into the car in front of you while their attention was off the road.
When I mentioned to my co-writer, Kevin Dwyer, that I thought it might be a fun little article, he jumped at it. Kevin, a long-time islander is a fountain of information, and he was happy to share a bit of history on the subject:
Here on Bainbridge Island—and really throughout Kitsap County—we don’t have traditional billboard advertising like you might see in Seattle, along I-5, I-90, or on busy Aurora Boulevard.
But what do we do to spread the word about Island events and happenings? The fences, the Town & Country reader board, and a couple of overhead wires on Winslow Way are our solution. The latter two may require some paperwork and possibly a hanging up fee.
The fences? That’s a whole other story. Back in the early 2000s, before the beautiful Bainbridge Art Museum was built, along with the Welcoming and Wayfinding Park across the street, there was an old rickety fence on the southwest corner of Highway 305 and Winslow Way.
It surrounded the property that eventually became the park. It had once upon a time been a Union 76 gas station and auto repair joint. After it closed, the site was capped with dirt and the fence was installed for safety reasons.
Over time, some ingenious islanders decided that the fence would make a perfect place on which to hang event banners—given the number of cars and pedestrians that passed the fence every day to go to and from the Bainbridge ferry. The old cyclone fence was the island’s living billboard until just over a decade ago when the Bainbridge Island Rotary Club, the City, and other groups raised funds to construct the park.
Now another fence that separates the northwest side of the Safeway parking lot from High School Road has become the latest “Gorilla Marketing” spot on the island. Walk or drive by there on any given day and you’ll notice an increasing number of banners and signs.
It’s an eclectic mix of advertisements and announcements, varying from enrollment for schools, genealogy, the Land Trust, horse camps, science, archery, and volleyball classes, as well as classes at BARN, and much more. In the interest of public safety, I thought I would share the current banners that, as of this week, are hanging on the fence:
We thought, in the interest of supporting our island programs and businesses, that this would be a fun thing to share on a seasonal basis—stay tuned and we’ll update it again in a few months.
Written by Kevin Dwyer and Margaret Millmore