Christmas parade will roll down Cole again

Enumclaw’s annual holiday parade has not only been saved, but the 2009 edition will likely be expanded to a full day’s worth of family-friendly activities.

Organization of the parade has landed in the lap of the still-new Mount Rainier Independent Business Alliance, a group dedicated to the proposition that local folks should support local merchants. The MRIBA stepped to the forefront after it was announced that the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce would no longer be hosting the parade. The chamber had inherited the parade from the now-defunct Enumclaw Downtown Partnership and determined that putting on events like the holiday parade was not part of its core mission.

Chuck Bender, the owner of Cole Street’s Skynet Broadband and the driving force behind the MRIBA, said hosting the holiday event gives the organization the perfect platform to preach its message.

“This gives us a great forum to talk about buying local and why it’s important to support local businesses,” Bender said.

The MRIBA and similar organizations emphasize that it’s local merchants who help provide a community’s heartbeat by donating to worthy causes, providing jobs and hosting community events. When shoppers’ dollars are spent outside the immediate community, the theory goes, those benefits disappear.

Bender said he received a call from Chamber Director Cathy Rigg shortly after the chamber announced it would be getting out of the parade business. Asked if the MRIBA would consider taking on the parade, Bender said the logical question was, “how would this benefit all our members?”

Once it was determined that the parade could boost awareness of the “shop local” theme and provide some direct opportunities for members at holiday time, the decision was fairly easy, Bender said. He hoted that the MRIBA was unanimous in its support for taking over the parade and there was been widespread agreement from the group’s 44 members.

Once the MRIBA decided to get involved, plans escalated.

“We’re planning on expanding the scope of the event, trying to make it more of a holiday festival,” Bender said.

Plans are in the works, he said, for events throughout the day that will draw people into town. When they arrive, the plan is to have vendors – particularly those who aren’t part of the downtown core – ready and willing to meet customers’ desires.

“We hope to give some of our members who aren’t on Cole Street a chance to come in and set up,” Bender said.

When it comes to the parade, the chamber “has been very helpful, getting us all the information we need,” he said. But the MRIBA has grander plans, Bender said, and will attempt to draw more floats and more bands, with a concerted effort to reach out to nearby communities.

The planning process will soon kick off in earnest, Bender said, and culminate Dec. 5.

Reach Kevin Hanson at or 360-802-8205.