This Year’s Grand Old Fourth May Not Be the Same as Yesteryear, But Still Lots to Do!

Grand Old 4th of July 2021 Bainbridge Island Pandemic EditionNo Street Dance, No Parade, No Street Fair. Oh my!

Like last year, the 2021 Grand Old Fourth of July Celebration, which has been a tradition on Bainbridge Island since its inception in 1967,  will be a much reduced event on Sunday, but never fear, there are still some things happening for locals and visitors to revel in (See the Schedule of Events below).

The Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce, which produces the annual soiree, was faced with a lot of uncertainty over the outcome of the Pandemic and did not have the necessary lead time needed to stage this far flung affair.  Thus, even with mask-wearing and social distancing greatly reduced, or all together lifted, under Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest proclamations, the Chamber simply did not have the time or wherewithal to pull off  the Fourth of July that many of us have come to expect.

You might recall that the normally festive Grand Old Fourth typically starts on the evening of July 3rd with a Street Dance on Winslow, where parents, grandparents, teens and kids can be found dancing and whooping it up to the sounds of local bands like the Fenderskirts , or grooving to the sound of an imported DJ, or heavy metal band on one of several stages.

The morning of July 4th traditionally starts out more sedately with a Pancake Breakfast, put on by the Bainbridge High School Boosters, and is followed up by the Bainbridge Youth Services  Fun Runs, the Classic Car Show, where some of the island’s coolest old jalopies and tricked out cars from yesteryear are on display.

Not far away is the Street Fair, where there can be up to 125 or so vendors, selling food, clothing, and art work, or pitching their non-profit organizations or causes. Near Waterfront Park, you might find pony rides and blow-up attractions for the kids, along with the Kiwanis Club’s Putt-Putt Golf layout. What island kid hasn’t tried their hand at least once at that game over the years?

As the day wears on,  a Beer and Wine Gardens emerge, along with all sorts of music and entertainment for kids and adults. But the highlight of any Grand Old Fourth on Bainbridge Island is the famous mile-long parade.

Depending on the year, there can be as many as 120 entrants in the  parade and it can take almost two hours to complete. The joke used to be that everyone watching the parade was in the parade at one time or another throughout the day. But that’s not true anymore.

Because of the parade and the Grand Old Fourth’s small town feel, it attracts throngs of tourists as well as locals, who gawk at floats that include any number of non-profits, businesses, Little Leaguers, the BHS Band, rope-skippers, antique cars, musicians on trucks, Scottish Highlanders, dogs and much more.

One of my favorite floats from recent times was Blackbird Bakeries’ Toast Brigade, or Town & Country Market’s Grape Bunch, complete with grocery carts.  Admittedly, the parade is a bit unorganized, but the announcers in the three reviewing stands – local actors and/or musicians – do a great job of promoting the entrants and ad libbing to the delight of the crowd.

While there is no official count, the Chamber estimates that from start to finish ( 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.), there are more than 20,000 people who attend the Grand Old Fourth – making it one of the most – if not the most – popular annual event on the island.

Hopefully, we’ll get back to the good old days next year, but tomorrow it is again a toned down version of the event. Here’s what to expect:

SCHEDULE & DETAILSBainbridge Island Grand Old 4th of July - Pandemic Edition 2021


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:

Bainbridge Island Grand Old 4th Car Parade RouteLUNCHTIME: 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: and


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.

Bainbridge Island General Store logo 2021Don’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.

Note: Kevin Dwyer is the former Executive Director of the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce. He helped stage more than 10 Grand Old Fourth events from 2001-2011.

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