Edmonds Chamber of Commerce forced to cancel An Edmonds Kind of Fourth — and chamber itself is in jeopardy

Edmonds Chamber of Commerce members signal the end of the 2019 parade. (File photo by Julia Wiese)

For the first time since World War II, the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce is canceling its annual “An Edmonds Kind of Fourth” of July celebration.

The chamber said that given the current coronavirus response and Gov. Jay Inslee’s phased reopening plan, it will not be possible for the estimated 18,000 Edmonds residents and participants to enjoy the annual Independence Day event, which includes a parade and fireworks show.

It’s also possible that the annual Taste Edmonds event, a major chamber of commerce fundraiser held each August, may be canceled due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions.

“It pains us to announce the cancellation of our beloved 4th of July celebration.” said Greg Urban, President & CEO of the Edmonds Chamber. “This community celebration has been a signature event for the Edmonds Chamber since 1907. It has always served as a point in time where we all connect, come together and show pride in our city and nation. Many recall attending as a kid, bringing their own children and eventually their grandchildren to the parades and events,” Urban said. 

As a community nonprofit organization, the chamber is also facing financial realities, Urban said. In addition to the July 4th celebration, the chamber puts on myriad popular community events, including Taste Edmonds, the Edmonds Car Show, Halloween Trick-or-Treat, the Tree Lighting Ceremony and the Clam Chowder Cook-off.

The Edmonds Chamber is funded primarily in two ways: First, through annual memberships from local Edmonds businesses and some non-business “family” memberships. And second, through events like Taste Edmonds, which is the chamber’s primary source of revenue each year.

Many businesses, feeling the crush of either closing their doors at this time or operating with less revenue, have not been able to afford their membership dues and membership revenues are expected to steeply decline in the coming months, Urban said. With the cancellation of the Edmonds Kind of 4th and potentially Taste Edmonds in August, the 113-year-old chamber will no longer have the necessary funds to maintain operations and keep the small staff of three going.

In addition to sponsoring events, the chamber provides business advocacy and networking programs for local business owners. It also gives back to the community directly channeling nearly $400,000 to local vendors and service providers, in addition to donations to other non-profits such as Boys & Girls Club, Edmonds-Woodway High School, Edmonds Lions Club, Edmonds Kiwanis and many others.

“The Edmonds Chamber has been a longtime supporter of Edmonds-Woodway High School with the annual Waste Warriors effort at Taste Edmonds,” said Kelsey Foster, 2020 graduation party co-chair. “The students and parents volunteer for three days of hard work picking up trash and in return, receive a donation to help fund the safe and sober graduation party. Possibly losing one of the biggest fundraisers for next year’s Class of 2021 graduation party will be tough to recover from.”

You can support the chamber by joining as a non-business/individual member. Your membership helps ensure the future of large community events and annual traditions by keeping the Edmonds Chamber in place. The chamber notes that even your dog can join — to date there are two canine members. 

The cost for an annual individual membership is $125, and it can be paid annually, quarterly or monthly. Click here to join. 

You can also make a direct donation of support at the Edmonds Chamber website.


  1. Really… how about we slow down and really think what these cancellations are doing to our community? Maybe consider treating us like intelligent folks who can make good decisions. Adults who can balance their budgets with their health concerns. Not only is the 4th parade a celebration it’s an advertisement for many small businesses who are struggling to stay open or reopen. Perhaps we can hold it to celebrate not only our independence but our resilience. Perhaps we can hold it to show reasonable intelligent people are tired of losing our rights when the small segments of our population who are very much at risk and can be protected without bankrupting our city. As small businesses we are always balancing risk and reward. A parade is not just a parade… this year it’s a chance to celebrate every business trying to make a difference and trying to keep their teams employed.

    1. I really hope that you aren’t directing any of that criticism toward the good folks at the Chamber, because like most people these days they are doing their very best during some very challenging circumstances. Right now the future of the Chamber is in play, along with all of the good works that they sponsor/support all year. Against that backdrop I am fairly certain (no, actually I am dead certain) that the last thing that they would want to do is to cancel the 4th of July parade. However, these things take planning, money, and volunteers (and that is during times when little COVID-19 isn’t doing its best to kill us all). Unfortunately, the Chamber’s current decision isn’t based on anything other than the conditions that have been imposed upon it this year (i.e. financial, state orders, and health concerns related to a pandemic).

      That said, nobody “owns” the 4th of July. You being an intelligent person who can make good decisions and all, there is nothing stopping you from showing your resiliency by planning a parade. Have at it. Just don’t throw shade at people who work really hard for you, and whose hearts are breaking over some of the decisions that they have to make at this time.

      *Disclaimer* I am not a member of the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce.

      I do share your frustration.

    1. “The Plague of Corruption”, is now part of most every Biology Students debate. This pandemic has afforded Med Students ability to interact on a level that has not been afforded in the past. Now classes are tele-conferences with more students participating and discussing subjects that were taboo or not allowed to be discussed before the lockdown, and now are being discussed openly. Fred’s U-Tube link above is a good start of information that everyone should know. Whether you believe or not is up to you. But it is one of the good things this pandemic has brought about. The discussion of possible corruption of World Health and how it applies to everyone on Earth is now afforded a platform. I, for one, see that debate among future doctors, biologist, nurses, is a positive outcome of this pandemic.

  2. The Chamber certainly does not need to promote Edmonds to get more visitors. In Snohomish County there are 2808 reported cases of the Coronavirus. 111 reported deaths. Edmonds has 292 reported cases, and 23 deaths. As a percentage rate of deaths to reported cases Edmonds death rate is twice as high as the county rate. Maybe we have more senior citizens. The Chamber certainly should do what it can not to encourage visitors to Edmonds for at least a year or two. Any event in town will encourage more tourists and adversely effect our seniors. Restaurants that do not open will reduce visitors. Limiting our downtown parking during the day to two hours, and evening parking could remain the same would help. Our beach parking could be limited to one hour. Edmonds citizens could finally enjoy our beaches again this summer with social distancing in effect. Our art walk would be nice this summer, it certainly should just happen without promoting it to the world.

  3. Why can’t we get a bit creative here. We could have a longer route — weaving up and down 4th and 5th with markings for households to sit with appropriate spaces in between. I am sure we could get volunteers out there to help setup / take down the markings. Then we could have the paraders in cars or bikes with trailers or something that is mobile because the distance is further and we can keep them contained. Each transport vehicle could have a person or two or a household group in the vehicle. It is science that the virus does not spread outdoors to the extent it spreads inside so I think we could create a safe parade situation.

    Everyone who attends must wear a mask.

    Fireworks — a barge on the sound? I have a bunch of kayak friends that would volunteer to pick up the debris the next morning.

    We can’t just keep shutting things down. We need to rethink how we do things and get a bit creative because this is going to be around for a while.

    We should all thankful our founding fathers didn’t just stay hunkered down in Valley Forge for the rest of the year after the snow started to melt.

  4. Everyone, please read the details about how the parade and fireworks are funded. Local business provide the support and our local businesses are not currently at full speed. It is probably not related to social distancing and masks and all that it is the money. The fireworks were already going to be on a barge.

  5. Then let’s get creative there. They are asking fircresidents to step up and help fund the chamber. I would think that would be more likely if they see a benefit eg a parade rather than nothing. how much can putting on a parade cost. How can we do a homegrown event for less. Maybe we do a Ford fiesta event instead of a Cadillac. Worth looking into. I’m willing to help. Anyone else?

    1. Graduations and birthdays are being celebrated by car parades. Do like the recycle event and Q up cars at Edmonds College . At each point of interest below have a sign for a number do dial to get a description of the Points of Interest are items below with Caps. route the parade by from the college by Public Works, then west on main past the HS and through the Round About, past Yost Park, Wade James theater, to the Anderson Center , down to 6th and Main, and Mike can be on the old Fire Truck as cars turn north to go by Civic Park, then back south past City Hall, down main past Edmonds Theater, north as the new Art Facility, (vacant lot now) past the Post Office, west to Sunset for a drive by, no parking please, then disperse at the corner of the beautiful Colonial Home near the alaska airlines signs.

      If we can make a app or something to tell folks a flyer could be posted on line at MEN and you could scowl through in along the route and that same flyer could be handed out when cars leave the college.

      People could social distance along the route to watch the cars and sing “Happy Birthday America, while washing their hands. The only mouth driven instruments would be bag pipes that could be equiped with a filter device at the end of each of those music tube things.

  6. How many organizations do businesses pay into? Prior to the Pandemic, I wondered about the relationships among organizations for the betterment of business in Edmonds. The ones that easily stand out are the 1) Chamber of Commerce, 2) Ed! 3) City of Edmonds Department of Economic Development. Are there more business organizations not listed in these three? If Ed! And the Chamber are one, then what is the name for the greater Edmonds area, beyond downtown? Perhaps it is time for a gap analysis, including reviewing businesses outside of the downtown. Would a responsible donor, investor, business owner or government official give money without knowing how the entities inter-relate? Would they want to know what services they provide, the fees they charge, and penalties they threaten to enforce? Is it time for a review of services among these different business entities?

  7. To operate a business you need a business license issued by the City. The city Planning Department has information of all of Edmonds not only for brick and mortar but for all the home businesses as well. Those lists exceed all the other lists mentioned above.

  8. Support Local Businesses

    Virtually all of us want Edmonds businesses to thrive. We want a healthy community.

    Darrol, I agree with you in that the City has information that can be used to help decipher how it is working with business entities and how the City overlaps other business organizaions. Is it still doing part of the book keeping and, or accounting for ED! or Edbid? How much of citizens taxes are going to staff time for the Chamber, ED!, etc.? We, as citizens may not mind, we may even support paying, however, we should know.

    Economists, businesses, the City all know the impact to businesses is going to take an indefinite number of years to recover. Due to this, an analysis of business services would be worth while.

    Businesses do not need added on required fees, (i.e. taxes) filtered through government connected through the non-profit Downtown BID. Businesses do not need penalities against them if the businesses do not pay the imposed fees.

    Almost imediately before the pandemic, the Economic Director was proposing, to the City Council, penalties to take business licenses, within the Edmonds Downtown Business District, for those who did not pay the forced fees (for being located where they are).

    Council has every right to initiate agenda items for discussion, and then action, for the Council has the power and authority to vote to end the Edmonds Downtown Business Improvement District (Edbid or Ed!). However, the City Council continues to defer and not take action.

    While the City was willing to discuss penalties, it has not brought forth discussion on the disbanding of the current Downtown BID. Multiple businesses and residents brought forth statements and documentation including a white paper with legal refernences. The City pubilcy documented it would review the information. If they have done anything with it, I have not seen it.

    These City Council agenda items would fall under the essential government because undue financial burdens are on the businesses. The City and, or Ed! or someother entitiy may have already done something behind the scenes, perhaps as a pause, perhaps through the Arts Committee… However… It is my understanding, the buck keeps getting bullied down the road by key business owners. Other business owners have been in fear to speak up to their own Edmonds government, based on indirect past consequences.

    The collection of fees, the structure, of the Edmonds Downtown Business Improvement District has been under great controversy ever since it was started.

    This is the ideal time for the Council to discuss and take action on the existing Downtown Improvement Business District. As the district charges fees to downtown businesses, and other entitities, regardless of size, because of where they are located, this would be the ideal time to disband the district. The Impovement District can be rethought at another time.

    The City Council, Staff, the Chamber, the Business District… they are overlapping in fees, accounting, accountability, services, nonprofits, etc.

    Working together is a great thing… However, being open and honest, disclosing ROI, what are the businesses and the community getting from each of these? Who or what organization would be an impartial analyst of the organizations umbrella-ing the Edmonds businesses?

    1. Hello Lori:
      The Business Improvement District (B.I.D.) represents all businesses in a defined geographical area that is essentially the downtown core.
      All businesses in that specific area must pay into the B.I.D. The billing/collecting is processed through city hall. The funds are to be used for supporting the B.I.D.
      Agenda. The B.I.D. refers to itself as ED. This name is the result of a branding strategy.
      The B.I.D. is a legal entity and , by its nature, is the only business support organization in Edmonds that requires a fee.
      The rest of the support organizations (and there are many) have either voluntary membership costs, like the Chamber of Commerce, or have no membership fees attached to them, like DEMA. (Downtown Edmonds Merchant’s Association)
      The Chamber represents businesses throughout the city,
      and in some cases, the county. DEMA supports downtown merchants.
      The City supports businesses throughout Edmonds.
      This is mostly done through the Economic Development Dept. and the Parks Dept. which includes support and administration for the arts.
      There are no extra fees charged to the businesses in Edmonds for the city’s extensive contributions and support.
      This is a brief, nuts and bolts summary.
      There are many organizations, groups and committees that support business in Edmonds.
      For some the support is their main goal and function,
      For others the support comes as an awesome byproduct of their primary purpose and goals.
      Either way, the groups often work together.

  9. Pat,

    I sincerely appreciate your response of the supporting organizations to Edmonds businesses. As you stated, the BID is a legal entity which can be disbanded by the city council at any time. If the city would like to alleviate financial burden to the businesses, it has the power to do so. It appears the Chamber of Commerce and ED overlap in their services. If Chamber employees are at risk of cuts, and the entity itself is in financial need, the BID can be disbanded. The legal entity is questionable in its formation, running, coverage, etc. However, I do sincerely appreciate your above response.

    Also, If the Chamber is currently blocked from normal activities, this time could be used in a positive way for reviewing and planning.

    Thank you for investing time to share your knowledge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.