This is the story of our Scotch Broom Parade.
It is as ridiculous as you can imagine, because there is very little fanfare behind this very impromptu, eclectic, ironic parade celebrating an invasive plant found all around the island.
Scotch Broom is a beautiful yellow flower that grows on large bushes, and are pivotal in protecting erosion. In the beginning of the 20th century, the island’s forests were clear cut, to harvest timber for ship making. Suddenly, there was empty land being pounded by the PNW rains, and slowly being stripped away. The community came together and replanted indigenous trees to repopulate the forests, and used Scotch Broom to keep the soil together. They are very hardy plants, and they thrive wherever they go. Hence, they are also rather invasive; which, at one point was an advantage. But a hundred years later, not so much.
“The essence of the Bainbridge Island Scotch Broom Parade is its capricious nature, unlike “real” parades and unlike the plant, which blooms true every May with bright and enticing yellow flowers that make this aggressive invasive species hard to hate.
Also known as Scot’s Broom, this flowering shrub was originally introduced from Europe for its ornamental and erosion-resistant qualities. Unfortunately for the Pacific Northwest, it reduces wildlife habitat, bullying out ecologically sustaining native vegetation.”
So why hold a parade in its name? According to Island historian Gerald Elfendahl, the event’s original conception, carried on today, was an ironic joke. In the early 1960s Bainbridge’s Strawberry Festival was petering out, and its annual Grand Old Fourth parade hadn’t yet begun. When Island architect John Rudolph stopped in one day to visit a friend at the Chamber of Commerce and happened upon a state questionnaire asking what our community’s annual festival was, he sent in a frivolous answer and thought no more about it—that is until people showed up the following May to see Bainbridge Island’s Scotch Broom Parade.
Within an hour, the event was thrown together with a “queen” pulled off the street, a few impromptu joiners, and some bouquets of Scotch Broom.” (insidebainbridge)
This is a parade I can get behind! So spontaneous. Community-organized. Fun. Spunky. A little unorganized…
It was supposed to be on Wednesday, but last minute they changed the date to Thursday.
I wasn’t sure where it started, when it began or who to contact to get more information. So, being the adventurers we are, we just got in the car and headed downtown and just waited. Seriously, what else are we going to do? Not Go??? Psh, I am a hound dog for parades.
We found the Scotch Broom Parade car in the parking lot of a grocery store! Woot!!
I wasn’t sure if this was it, though. Some people were decorating the car, other people were taking pictures.
So, we just hung out for a while. And then we went into the store and picked up some things.
And then we got in the car to go home, since the Scotch Broom Parade car was gone from the parking lot…
We saw the parade in action!! SO EXCITING!!! Ben asked if the roads were blocked off, or if they had a police escort, or if they had a banner…
Nope! They were just walking down the street, dressed to the 9s, carrying Scotch Broom bouquets.
That is our annual parade 🙂 You really can’t get more awesome than that. I love this place.
I was so taken with the beauty of the parade, we stopped off on a side road and picked some Scotch Broom to adorn our house.