The Grand Old 4th Celebration originated in 1967, and for many islanders it was the official kick off of the summer season. Since its inception, it has become the biggest event on the island, not only for locals, but for visitors from near and afar.
Obviously, the pandemic put a damper on things, and 2020 was the first time in more than 50 years that the Grand Old 4th wasn’t celebrated in traditional fashion. However, our community rallied together and 2020 Grand Old 4th t-shirts were created for purchase, the proceeds of which were donated to local businesses (if you have one, wear it this year!).
The 2021 Grand Old 4th Celebration – Pandemic Edition
Sponsored by the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce (BICC)
In the interests of health and safety, this is a year where a ‘normal’ 4th is not possible, and so the BICC is proud to announce 2021’s Grand Old 4th: Pandemic Edition: An island-wide day out featuring a fun run, a parade, and a celebration both of resilience and togetherness in the true spirit of the holiday, and the cooperative nature of the Chamber of Commerce.
Where the traditional Grand Old 4th begins with a run in Winslow, the 2021 Pandemic Edition offers flexible timing and island-wide locations to run.
Where the regular Grand Old 4th Parade is about a short parade in Winslow, the 2021 Pandemic Edition is about an island-wide parade.
Where the normal Grand Old 4th Meal is packed into and around Waterfront Park, the 2021 Pandemic edition is about an island-wide picnic, as a celebration of being together, yet safely distanced.
Please note that this is a special kind of Grand Old 4th, intended as a one-off 2021 celebration, with every intention (and hope) of packing back into downtown Winslow for 2022!
SCHEDULE & DETAILS
ALL-DAY: ISLAND-WIDE Bainbridge Youth Services (BYS) FUN RUN (VIRTUAL VERSION)
Choose your own time and route! Have fun – run, walk, hike, bike, or jog in your neighborhood or favorite park. Not on Bainbridge for the holiday? No problem – participate from wherever you are – see prize for Global Bainbridge!
5K or 1 Mile – all ages. Entry fee $20 per participant. Includes a race bib and the opportunity to win prizes and earn a t-shirt if you raise $100 over your entry fee.
Kids Dash – kids 7 and under. Entry fee $10 per kid and includes a race bib and the opportunity to win prizes and earn a t-shirt if you raise $100 over your entry fee. Create your own obstacle course, go on a treasure hunt, get creative and send us your pictures!
The Dog Jog – Bring Fido! Entry fee $10 per dog and includes a commemorative bandana for your pet. Win a prize for your Sporty Dog!
Every dollar earned through the Fun Run works to keep Bainbridge Youth Services free and accessible to all youth. More information at: https://www.askbys.org/2021-fun-run/
LUNCHTIME: ISLAND-WIDE CLASSIC CAR CRUISE PARADE
The Bainbridge Island Classic Car Cruise Parade combines the love of classic automobiles with a desire to help local kids. Open to the general public, come and enjoy cool cars and special interest vehicles or bring one of your own (no fee or advance reservation required).
Kicking off at the Bainbridge First Baptist Church (corner of Madison & Highway 305), the cruise will visit all around the island over the course of an approximately 90-minute parade route, bringing this year’s procession to you, wherever you live on Bainbridge.
Donations welcomed – all funds will be donated to Helpline House’s Project Backpack
Start time: 10:30am – Starting location: Sakai Middle School on Sportsman Club Road. For information on the entire parade route: https://www.bainbridgeislandcarshow.com/ and https://moderncollision.com
DINNERTIME: ISLAND-WIDE PICNIC IN THE PARKS
Grab a picnic basket, and head on over to any of the Island’s parks for a celebration of our nation and our community. Enjoy the beautiful place that we live, the amazing parks that we have and celebrate safely with your neighbors in a socially-distanced outdoor environment.
Not comfortable being in a park? Just throw that blanket out in your backyard, or at the end of your street with your neighbors, or even in your living room: The point is not where you are, or what your level of comfort is right now – it is that we are all Bainbridge Strong and we are together, even when we are physically apart.
Don’t have a picnic basket? Want to support Bainbridge businesses and shop small, shop local? The Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with our retail and food/drink members, will be offering pre-packed picnic baskets for sale throughout the month of June, ready for pick up on July 3rd. Where local businesses usually have booths at the Grand Old 4th Street Fair in Waterfront Park, the 2021 Pandemic Edition is about them selling holiday baskets on the Bainbridge Island General Store. To purchase picnic baskets from participating merchants, click here. If you’d like to be a participating merchant, contact the Chamber directly, or click here.
A LITTLE HISTORY
Prior to World War II, the Island’s biggest event was the Strawberry Festival, held each June. However, the unfortunate interment events that sent our Japanese-American neighbors away, many of which were prominent in our local farming community, ended that festival, and although many tried to revive it after the war, it was never the same.
Almost two decades passed before a new summer festival/event would take hold. In 1967, the late Arnie Jackson, an eccentric longtime local, 45-year Volunteer Firefighter and local businessman, got together with the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce (he was also a member of the BICC) to organize the first Grand Old 4th celebration. With the help of Kiwanis volunteers, they built 10×10 booth frames that various vendors could rent from the Chamber to use on the parade route, which ran down the center of Winslow Way.
The parade and celebration started off small as our population at the time was less than 2,000 residents—the running joke back in those days: “it’s a good thing that people come from other communities to watch, because everyone who lives here is in the parade…” Vicki Rauh, longtime Chamber staff and licensing agent remembers that back in the 1970s, “the parade was so short it went around twice”.
In 1991, when the entire island was incorporated into the City of Bainbridge Island, the new city government had concerns about safety issues in regards to having both the vendor booths and parade route on the same street. It was then decided to move the street fair portion of the event to Bjune and Brien Drives, which also allowed more use of Waterfront Park as part of the celebration.
Today our island boasts a robust population of approximately 24,000 residents, and although many of those residents use the holiday weekend to vacation elsewhere, the traditional pre-pandemic Grand Old 4th celebration drew crowds from near and afar, an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 attendees enjoyed the event in 2019. The 2019 festivities included a Traditional Pancake Breakfast, the Street Fair (which included arts & crafts, food, information booths, live music, a photo exhibit, Young Artisan Market, Kid’s Zone), Bainbridge Youth Services Family Fun Run, the Classic Antique and Special Interest Car Show, the Stars & Strikes Old Timers’ Baseball Game (held at Bainbridge High School field), the Ranger and the Re-Arrangers Gypsy Jazz Band, Clay Martin’s Puppets, a Beer & Wine Garden, That’s A Some Pizza Eating Contest, the Home Town Band, Alleyoop! Children’s Musical Games, the MILE-LONG PARADE and Soul Siren (Band) Rhythm & Blues, Soul & Rock.
A few fun FAQs:
What made Arnie Jackson so eccentric? Arnie was a unique man with an incredible ability to get people motivated. He was fondly remembered as “Growly” and could be seen zipping around the parade route on his Honda 80 motorcycle, decked out in an American Flag vest, barking orders to everyone and anyone (although, the majority of the work and organization in those days was handled by the Kiwanis Parade Marshals). His contributions to the island are well remembered and appreciated, so much so that Bainbridge Fireworks dedicated one of their July 4th fireworks shows to Arnie’s memory (unfortunately, fireworks will not be available this year).
Where did that amazing poster come from? In 2019, for the third year in row, the Chamber of Commerce has held a contest to create the Grand Old 4th Poster, the contestants must be students from any of our public and private elementary, middle or high schools, and the winner is awarded a $1,000.00 scholarship, sponsored by Puget Sound Energy. 2019’s winner was Addie Herb, a 7th grader at Madrona School. The BICC is hoping to reinstate the poster contest in 2022.
Why are the politicians always at the back of the parade? No, it’s not because we don’t like them…many of our politicians participate in several 4th of July events all over the county and need time to get from one event to the next. Giving them the “finale” float allows them time to get to us and participate in the parade.
Can you really “save your seat” the day before the parade on the route? We’re a small community and we respect each other, so yes, bring a chair (and we mean just about any chair: lawn, dining, beanbag, you name it, or just a nice blanket) and stake out your spot on July 3rd, and don’t worry, it will still be there when you arrive on the 4th!
The Grand Old 4th of July is produced and presented by the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce, with the help of hundreds of volunteers and a handful of loyal sponsoring businesses.
*Logos and images used with permission from the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce