No West Seattle Grand Parade? $3,500+ needed to save it

(WSB photo of 2011 West Seattle Grand Parade)
Organizers of the West Seattle American Legion Grand Parade – the one that thousands watch every July as dozens of floats and bands and community groups walk and roll and march down California SW – say they’ll have to cancel it if nobody steps up to contribute $3,500 so they can cover the costs. We’ve mentioned the donation drive earlier this year; here’s the latest from parade co-coordinator Dave Vague:

We want to thank everyone in the community who has donated to help put on the West Seattle parade so far this year, however, we’re still $3,500 short of the funds needed to put the parade on this year. As you know, we now are responsible for the cost of the street barricade signs and the bid has come in at $7,000, and so far we have only been able to raise half that amount. If we are unable to raise the additional money needed by June 1 we need to cancel the parade this year.

This was to be the parade’s 79th year, and as added excitement, it includes a 5K run before the start.

We are in desperate need in finding a sponsor or donor for the remaining funds by the end of May.

If anyone would like to donate or become a parade sponsor, contact Jim Edwards ( or Dave Vague (

You can donate online via the official parade website, too. If you’ve missed our previous coverage – this is the second year the city has required groups to pay the cost of street-closure barricades; last year, the quote was about $3,000, and this year it’s up to $7,000. The parade does not charge entry fees and changing that wouldn’t help, because then they would have to pay more to get a different type of permit. If the parade doesn’t get canceled, it’s set for July 21st.

ADDED TUESDAY MORNING: Forgot to note that one of the West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day sales this Saturday is a benefit for the parade – it’s sale #140 on the map, at parade-presenting American Legion Post 160, 3618 SW Alaska in The Triangle.

39 Replies to "No West Seattle Grand Parade? $3,500+ needed to save it"

  • Harmonic May 7, 2012 (10:31 pm)

    I would donate – but must ask, why a $2,000 increase?

  • Sound Ad Group May 7, 2012 (11:40 pm)

    Is there regulation on the vendor for this or can anyone block the streets? Seems like for $7k, barricades could be purchased that can be reused for years to come.

    Next year might be $10k, is it possible that with the right resources we can manage this as a community vs. continuing to hire these people? Can a local construction company donate or lease out their barricades?

  • Herman May 8, 2012 (12:45 am)

    I’m in for 250.

  • Jim @wsparade May 8, 2012 (1:36 am)

    The Engineering plan for the parade was a little late in being delivered by the city last year. The barricade company offered a price without the full engineering plan in hand. West Seattle’s street layout presents some problems and the length of the parade complicates it as well. We have a 1.5 mile parade route, but we have nearly 4 miles of road with barricades on them. We have to meet the needs of Seattle Fire, and Metro Transit, as well as Seattle Police. I belive the final price for barricades last year approached $5,000 by the time the check was written, and even that included an unwilling sponsorship by the barricade company.

  • JennyB May 8, 2012 (6:26 am)

    I just donated $50. Considering it my family’s “ticket price”, well worth it!

  • Hollyplace May 8, 2012 (7:16 am)

    I donated last year and I am happy to this year too. It seems that hardly anyone else donated last year except businesses. It would be great if they could accept donations during the parade and have someone carry a donation bucket down each side of the street during the parade. Maybe people would be more likely to donate in the moment and that money could help finance the parade the following year.

  • Casey May 8, 2012 (7:33 am)

    I’m happy to donate $250.00

  • Jennie May 8, 2012 (8:55 am)

    I just gave $25. I love this parade and what is does for community spirit :)

  • JoAnne May 8, 2012 (9:34 am)

    I’m sick of this. The city takes more and more of our money and gives less and less service to the average tax-paying, law-abiding citizen.
    Our water, sewer, and garbage services used to be free. The city zoo and museum used to be free, and streets used to be cleaned by the city.
    Roads were built and maintained, all within normal budgets from collecting LOW levels of taxes.
    Taxes are sky high now, yet all these services are either gone or we have to pay extra for them. What’s next? Paying a fee when you have to call the police?
    The city has no problem blocking roads when THEY want to do something. They paid for the extra police and services for the May Day riots and OWS protests. If they can do that, why can’t they help our parade?

  • westseattledood May 8, 2012 (10:12 am)

    I whole-heartedly agree with Hollyplace about donation buckets or donation kiosks with “how to donate” info on parade day. I think people will give something. I encourage the WS Parade folks to get that going.

  • jissy May 8, 2012 (10:15 am)

    Hollyplace — I’d be willing to walk it w/a bucket — I think that’s a great idea…. get people in the moment while they are enjoying it!

  • skeeter May 8, 2012 (10:16 am)

    Water, sewer, and garbage used to be free? I’d like details on that!!

  • Junction Mom May 8, 2012 (11:07 am)

    I just clicked the donate button. Can WSB or the parade website keep readers informed with updates to that thermometer? It’s apparent there are donations going in. Also, is there a deadline? Nothing makes folks contribute like a deadline….

    • WSB May 8, 2012 (11:26 am)

      Junction Mom – Dave mentioned in his note to us that they need to raise the $ by the end of the month, so I think that would serve as a deadline. I also have a note out to him asking him to keep us updated about how it’s going. The one thing folks should realize is that the parade is a HUGE undertaking handled by a very small group of volunteers. As a major Grand Parade fan as well as a journalist, I have covered their lineup meeting the past couple years and really – with that and everything in the months leading up to it, PLUS the coordination on parade day, the end result is such a thing of beauty. Even though all that work culminates in an event that lasts “just” a few hours, it’s yet another unique facet of West Seattle life – there are still some other community parades around but none quite like this one. And classic parade entries like floats and bands and drill teams are not even the biggest part of it – community groups get to show off – schools and churches and businesses – we’ve even been in it a few years … We have donated as much as we can, both this year and last, since donating to/co-sponsoring multiple community events every year is something we are very happy to be able to do, so I hope they reach the goal – I personally can’t imagine a year with no parade … TR

  • KBear May 8, 2012 (11:07 am)

    Actually, JoAnne, Seattle’s tax burden is well below the national average, which is also at an historic low. Back when roads were well-built and maintained, it was because taxes were much higher. So which way do you want it?

  • RunForGoodRacing May 8, 2012 (11:24 am)

    The Float Dodger 5K (the 5K mentioned above) is helping out with the costs of the barricades, we have pledged no less than $2500 (but maybe more, depending on the number of participants).

    Help us, help the parade and be a part of the parade! Participate in this fun, community event. Each of your registrations helps fund the high price of barricades.

    Details at

  • jim @wsparade May 8, 2012 (12:06 pm)

    The support we are seeing here is great! Hopefully in coming years we can stabilize our funding sources and settle in to a routine for the next 79 years worth of parades. Please remember that the thermometer on the parade website is adjusted by a volunteer with a day job. So it will take a day or two to update.

  • rod May 8, 2012 (1:50 pm)

    They should do a Kickstarter campaign!

  • JoAnne May 8, 2012 (2:11 pm)

    Kbear Do you make your living blogging for Mayor McGinn? Seattle collects revenues in the billions of dollars. Ask the mayor why Seattle can pay for violent demonstrations but cannot support a community parade.

    Seattle collects B$O taxes, parking fees, sales tax, various fines, permits for building, remodeling, demolition, street use, tree pruning or removal, licenses for animals, taxi drivers and various other service providers, fees for impounded vehicles, various inspections, and any phone service.
    On top of that, they get a cut of the rates from electricity, garbage, water, and sewer. Many of these revenue sources did not even exist 20 or 30 years ago.
    It’s all a matter of priorities, and service to the citizens is NOT a priority for anyone at city hall.

  • AlkiAnne May 8, 2012 (2:43 pm)

    Maybe a bucket collection at local grocery stores and at the Sunday market to help this years parade? Or set up a table at the Alki 5k on the 20th? A collection during the parade would be an excellent way to collect for next year’s event but first we have to get this year’s secured!

    Since participants don’t pay an entry fee, could they be asked to consider a donation in the future (you see that a lot these days) and still skirt the legal stuff they are trying to avoid?

    • WSB May 8, 2012 (2:56 pm)

      AlkiAnne, re: donation from parade entries, that has been requested in the past – we know, as a past parade participant. But that covered expenses they already had BEFORE the whole signage cost came up … for example, they have always had to get a permit, and that alone has some kind of four-digit cost, IIRC – and that’s the “no entry fees charged” permit cost.

  • JN May 8, 2012 (4:30 pm)

    JoAnne, Mayor McGinn has been in charge for way too short a time to appreciably affect any of the taxes and funding sources you mention, so there is no reason to personally target him as the source of your woes. If you want to cite anyone, call out the City Council or the voters, since the majority of voters either voted for the officials who made the policies, or directly voted on where funds should go. Also, roads were in good shape when taxes were low because the governing bodies either borrowed tons of money, or they were in good shape because they were new, and now they are not because taxes were not high enough to pay for their upkeep.

    Also, when was the zoo or any major museum EVER free, as well as water, sewer and garbage services? (Seriously, just want to know, so if you have evidence I would be happy to hear it.)

  • bsmomma May 8, 2012 (4:39 pm)

    Glad this was posted! I had no idea about the 5K! I’ve been wanting to do my 1st one and this sounds PERFECT!!

  • ohthehorror May 8, 2012 (5:24 pm)

    I wish I would have lived in Seattle when all the city services and attractions were free! I’m guessing you didn’t have to lock your doors at night either. But I bet the streets were pretty torn up from all the horses and buggies.

  • Rob May 8, 2012 (6:31 pm)

    I posted this before and it was deleted. But if the occupy group can just march down the street, why cant we have a GOOD march (aka parade) down the street with no costs!?!?! Here comes the parade that we all have blocked the streets to watch. Look out… here it comes. YEAH look at that! Fun!! And wait for it…. FREE? Whoa… But no, the GIVE US YOUR FUNDS group loves to leech on good people that want to plan stuff and be nice. Learn people. Start to rebel against this bloated, greedy system and just be free Americans. Have the dang parade. I’ll help block a road with my own lawn chair and cooler and cheer you on as you go by.

  • Casey May 8, 2012 (6:39 pm)

    JoAnne, you seem to have an axe to grind, which is really not part of the issue at hand here. The issue is that the parade is under-funded this year–which appears to have been resolved.

    I don’t know what land anyone who thinks w/s/g were ever free is from. As for any governmental body “having the money” to deal with riots – that was a matter of public safety. Unfortunately, a parade, compared to public safety, is not as high on the priority list.

    As for your suggestions regarding taxes? We are ranked 26/50 in the US (, an interactive map from 2010) – we do struggle with a regressive sales tax, but I’m going to wager heavily based on nothing but what you’ve written here that you’re strongly in favor of that versus a progressive income tax–but would certainly prefer no taxes at all.

    If you want public services of any kind, taxes are a requirement–and those taxes don’t entitle you to post a litany of incorrect information.

  • fauntleroy fairy May 8, 2012 (7:58 pm)

    Casey, I think you and JN need to read, not read into, what JoAnne wrote. I am not defending her, but I understand her frustration. She never said that she wasn’t willing to pay any taxes, she is just tired of the ones we do pay being wasted and if a permit is issued for a protest march and it doesn’t require the protesters to also pay for barricades, etc. then she has a right to question that as well. Public safety is a completely separate issue. Police have a presence at the Hi-Yu parade for public safety, same as the protest marches, but all the “hoops” the parade has to jump through for something that benefits the community should be the same “hoops” required of someone closing down streets for a protest and that doesn’t appear to be the case.

  • JoAnne May 8, 2012 (8:16 pm)

    Casey, That is your source? An infographic from the Milwalkee Journal Sentinal? Really?
    The issue related to taxes is the question of why our city can shell out $thousands for protestors but not one thin dime for a local parade.
    Sorry this wasn’t clear to you. But then I suppose a lot of things would be unclear for someone who goes around thinking that nothing and no one existed before they came along.

  • NW Momma May 8, 2012 (9:49 pm)

    Can’t wait to hear more about the 5k and totally agree with the donation bucket.

  • ohmygosh May 9, 2012 (1:11 am)

    The zoo was free in the 50’s and 60’s and into the 70’s at least. I can’t remember when they started to charge. When we were kids we were at the zoo several times a week in the summer as it was free free free!No horses and buggies tearing up the roads either.LOL

  • JN May 9, 2012 (10:28 am)

    The city paid for closures, etc. because they have a protected, Constitutional right to protest/free speech(I don’t particularly agree with how they exercised it, though). If the parade could somehow be
    classified/operated/promoted as a protest and filed as such, then yes, the city would probably pay for closures and the rest, although it would not be any fun. What it kind of boils down to is that this is a community celebration that the community should pay for. I enjoy it, and so I’ve already donated towards it’s operation.

  • Huindekmi May 9, 2012 (10:45 am)

    I advocate cancelling the city funded, poorly attended car free day on Alki and using the money that would have been spent closing the roads around Alki for no good reason to instead pay for the road closures needed by the well attended community parade.

  • JN May 9, 2012 (11:26 am)

    Poorly attended? Car free day gets tons of participants enjoying a quiet, exhaust-free Alki, especially in the 5k. Plus, it is a city-wide program, not a single neighborhood thing.

  • fauntleroy fairy May 9, 2012 (11:27 am)

    The right to free speech and the right to protest is protected. The right to close streets is not, that’s why a permit is typically issued.

  • Huindekmi May 9, 2012 (1:14 pm)

    I’ve been to car free day. It was incredibly quiet and sparsely attended in comparison to the Hi-Yu parade. It even seemed like a very light crowd compared to a normal day on the beach. Just because it is a city wide series of events doesn’t mean that the money couldn’t be better spent on something with more tradition, meaning and appeal to the neighborhood as a whole.

    • WSB May 9, 2012 (1:44 pm)

      FWIW, they did scale back “car-free day” (Seattle Summer Streets, May 20th on Alki right after the West Seattle 5K) as of last year to just a few blocks, and that’ll be the case again this year – after a couple years of closing down the entirety of Alki and Harbor Avenues all the way from Don Armeni/Seacrest to 63rd. Yes, still incurs costs (though they were using volunteers to man most of the street blockades, there are still police involved). Maybe this year it’ll be sunny … last year the afternoon was cloudy:

  • datamuse May 9, 2012 (5:15 pm)

    Every tradition was new once.

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