News blog for Seattle's Fremont neighborhood


Entries from June 2010

Fremont Fair entertains crowds despite the weather

June 19th, 2010 by Doug Alder

While most people showed up in Fremont today to watch the Solstice Parade, a lot of folks took time out to enjoy the Fremont Fair.

School of Rock kicked off the day on the Redhook Main Stage. It’s made up of students from the rock music program and drew an equally young audience.

There were also plenty of activities to keep kids entertained, from a super slide to chalk painting in the streets.

Adults enjoyed the Art Car Blowout with dozens of decorated vehicles.

Many parade watchers made their way up to the Fremont Troll where an acting group performed scenes from Shakespeare.

You can find a list of tomorrow’s fair events here.

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Scenes from a drizzly Solstice Parade

June 19th, 2010 by Doug Alder

Raindrops and overcast skies didn’t keep thousands of people from crowding Fremont’s sidewalks for the annual Solstice Parade.

The nude bikers led the way encouraging everyone to stand up and yell.

After a delay between the bikers and the parade itself, and a few verbal confrontations from people in the crowd jockeying for a good view, the first band made its way through the heart of Fremont. 

From bellydancers to street performers to elaboarate floats, this year’s parade had plenty of colorful entries to brighten up a dreary weather day.

Almost all of the parade entries took time to mix with the crowd and pose for pictures. One band even performed two songs for the appreciative crowd.

The crowd was also in a very giving mood, opening their wallets to make cash donations to make sure there will be a parade next year.

Earlier, we posted a few photos of the naked bicyclists warming up for the event. And here are photos from the Fremont Fair, as well. Our sister site MyWallingford also has a photo gallery of the parade from the Wallingford side and from Gas Works Park.  Oh, want more naked cyclists? The Kozy Shack has posted a bunch on Flickr.

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Naked cyclists paint up, warm up via Ballard

June 19th, 2010 by Geeky Swedes

Hundreds of cyclists headed to Fremont this morning and braved the chilly weather to prepare for their annual naked ride at the Solstice Parade.

As is customary, many got painted up at Hale’s Palladium.

Then they jumped on their bikes and headed to Ballard for a warm up ride, surprising unsuspecting drivers and whooping it up down Market St. before returning for the noon start of the parade.

We’ll post more parade and fair coverage throughout the day…

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Last minute preps for the Solstice Parade

June 18th, 2010 by Geeky Swedes

Finishing touches are being put on the floats for Saturday’s Solstice Parade.

We met up with Rodman Gilder Miller of Fremont who was finishing up this float, which will be quite musical during the parade.

The Beatles will be represented along with the yellow submarine. Artists have only been working on the submarine for a few weeks but we’re told they’ve spent countless hours constructing it in that short amount of time. Music will be blaring and The Beatles themselves will be there.

The floats will be moved into position on Friday night for the start of the parade on Saturday, which gets underway at noon.

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Emotional memorial for fire victims

June 18th, 2010 by Doug Alder

“They may be gone but they are not alone,” Daniel Gebregiorgis said of his nieces, nephews and sister.

That was the common message from the families of the Fremont fire victims who were far from alone on Friday. Hundreds of people turned out for a memorial service at Key Arena including elected officials, religious leaders, and even perfect strangers.

“I didn’t know the families but the story broke my heart,” said Tina Curtison of Queen Anne. “I had the chance to walk down here to pay my respects and decided it was the right thing to do.”

Half an hour before the service for Eyerusalem Gebregiorgis, 22, Joseph Gebregiogis, 13, Nyella Smith, 7, Nisreen Shamam, 6, and Yaseen Shaman who had just turned 5, some people in the crowd were already overcome by grief. Sobs could be heard throughout the arena, and some family members had to leave the service once emotions got too raw.

“Our family has never felt a blow like this one,” one relative told the crowd as he talked about the victims. “Rest in peace where you began back in heaven.”

The first word of English wasn’t spoken until almost one hour into the service, but people from all races and backgrounds sat together to watch the moving tributes from Ethiopian choirs and bishops. Multiple languages were used, but the message was almost always the same.

“Your sorrow is our sorrow,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. “Your grief is Seattle’s grief. We are and we will be one community.”

Seattle Fire Chief Gregory Dean was also in the crowd along with several members of the fire department. Family members thanked them and the entire city for the outpouring of support they’ve received.

The service ended with an emotional slideshow with each victim memorialized on the Key Arena scoreboard, along with a final word from family and friends.

“On a Saturday morning in mid June, our angel gathered up her nieces and nephew like she always does and found her peace as she took the steps up to heaven,” said one speaker about Eyerusalem Gebregiorgis. “Her memory dwells forever.”

An account has been set up at Bank of America to donate money to the families. It’s called the Seattle Children’s Fire Fund. A booth is being set up at this weekend’s Fremont Fair where you can also make donations.

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Preview of Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade

June 17th, 2010 by Doug Alder

Close to 100,000 people are expected to flood the streets of Fremont this Saturday and Sunday for the Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade.  The parade itself kicks off at noon on Saturday from N. 36th and Leary, travels through the heart of Fremont, and ends at Gas Works Park. 

Photo above from 2009 Solstice Parade

In addition to the parade, which kicks off with the famous naked bicyclists, you’ll find plenty of other things to do.  Here’s a sampling:

Live bands:  Musical entertainment from 39 different bands on three different stages over the entire weekend.  Here’s the band lineup.

Fremont Abbey Arts for All:  Painting, interactive sculptures, sidewalk chalking, live music at the Rocket Block next to the Big Purple Slide

Seattle Art Car Blowout:  75 decorated cars in the Burke Building parking lot. Here’s the “ChewBaru” from last year’s show.

Cabiri Performance Troupe on Daedalus:  Daedalus is a fully freestanding aluminum aerial dance stage.  Five performances will feature dancers from The Cabiri performance troupe.

Shakespeare on The Troll:  Selected scenes from the Bard’s most famous and beloved plays in front of the Troll.

And keep an eye out for a booth collecting donations for the families involved in the deadly fire last weekend. You’ll find a map of the vendors and entertainment here.  You can also visit the fair’s official website.

The fair runs from 10am to 8pm on Saturday, and 11am to 6pm on Sunday.  We’ll have full coverage throughout the weekend here on as well as on our Twitter and Facebook accounts.

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Police and fire activity under Aurora Bridge

June 17th, 2010 by Geeky Swedes

Police and fire have been dispatched to N 34th St and Troll Ave N after reports that someone jumped from the bridge, a witness tells us. According to police, they have found the victim and are waiting for the King County Medical Examiner to arrive.

State Department of Transportation crews have been working since last month to install an eight-foot ‘suicide fence’ to prevent people from jumping. As of now, there isn’t any noticeable changes to the bridge as the DOT attaches the anchor bolts before the fence goes up. The project was slated to start in April but was delayed by construction equipment problems.

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Investigators identify cause of deadly fire

June 16th, 2010 by Geeky Swedes

Seattle Fire Chief Gregory Dean says investigators have determined Saturday’s deadly fire in Fremont was caused by a foam mattress in a downstairs closet that was leaning against a light bulb. Dean says the fire was ruled accidental.

According to Dean, Helen Gebregiorgis was asleep on the couch downstairs when one of the children smelled smoke and woke her up.  The smoke alarm went off soon after that, and Helen opened the doors and windows to try and clear the smoke. 

“The foam mattress fueled the fire, the oxygen from the open doors and windows fed the fire and made it grow quite fast,” Chief Dean said in a press conference this afternoon.

When Helen went upstairs to open the windows, she heard an explosion downstairs, grabbed her niece, and ran out of the house.

The five other members of the family, who did not make it out alive, were in a windowless bathroom on the second floor. When crews arrived on scene they could not put a ladder to the second floor because the fire was already too involved. Firefighters went into the apartment next door in hopes of breaking through the wall, but couldn’t due to flames.

Chief Dean says his department is still devastated by the outcome.  A safety investigation into the fire engine that malfunctioned is expected to be completed late next week.  Chief Dean also urged everyone to make sure they get out of their home immediately when a fire alarm goes off.

“Hopefully the lessons learned will not only make us a better department but a better community,” Dean said.

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Councilman demands ‘full public hearing’ for fire

June 16th, 2010 by Geeky Swedes

Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess said he’s planning to schedule several public hearings to investigate the fire department’s response in the deadly fire here in Fremont on Saturday morning.

Burgess chairs the council’s Public Safety & Education Committee, and he said the hearings are designed to examine the delays in fighting the fire, due to a mechanical issue with the first responding engine (above, being towed away after the fire.) “Part of the reason is that our firefighters deserve this, as much as anyone, so that what they did do there will be recognized and acknowledged,” he told our partners at the Seattle Times. We’ll keep you updated.

Earlier: Fire chief defends firefighters’ actions

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Contract awarded for Nickerson Street repaving

June 15th, 2010 by Doug Alder

Work on the controversial Nickerson Street rechannelization, better known as the “road diet,” will soon get underway. Today, SDOT awarded the contract for the paving part of the project. They don’t expect to see a schedule from the contractor until after Independence Day, so work will probably begin in early to mid July. Here’s a look at what workers are planning to do:



Before any restriping of the road is done, crews will repave a section of Nickerson between Etruria Street and 4th Avenue North. After that, the “diet” work begins between 13th Ave. West and Etruria to reduce the number of traffic lanes to one in each direction. A bike lane will be added on the uphill direction, bike sharrows will be added to the downhill direction, and a new two-way left turn lane will also be added.

The project has been the subject of spirited debate for the past few months. A recent reader poll found the community almost evenly split on whether they support or oppose the diet.

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Account set up to help fire families

June 14th, 2010 by Geeky Swedes

Dozens of family, friends and neighbors gathered in front of the scene of Saturday morning’s fire tonight to remember the five lives lost in the blaze.

They left flowers and wrote notes of remembrance in the growing memorial along the fence outside of the charred townhouse.

Daniel Gebregiorgis, the brother and uncle to the victims, attended the event along with Chris Smith, the father of one of the children lost. Gebregiorgis read some of the notes left at the memorial.

A bank account has been set up at Bank of America to donate money to the families. It’s called the Seattle Children’s Fire Fund. A new booth is being set up at this weekend’s Fremont Fair, where people can make donations, as well.

The potluck event was organized by next door neighbor Allecia Clemons, who said she wanted to help people to find peace after the tragic fire. Clemons is also working on setting up a community concert to raise money for the family — an effort that has attracted the attention of the Parks Department and other musicians who want to help. If you’re interested in helping organize the concert, please contact Allecia at

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‘Reserve’ engine malfunctioned Saturday

June 14th, 2010 by Geeky Swedes

The Seattle Fire Department now says the truck that had an equipment malfunction at the scene of Saturday’s fatal fire in Fremont was not Engine 18. In fact, it was Engine 81, a reserve fire engine.

Engine 81 used as ‘Engine 18’ by the Ballard-based fire crew.

Seattle Fire says the reserve engine was in use by the Ballard crew because the first line engine was undergoing routine maintenance. “Reserve engines take on the name of the station to which they are assigned when in service. This is why fire officials have referred to Engine 81 as ‘Engine 18,'” a release from the Seattle Fire Department states. Engine 81 was put into service in September 1996.

The City of Seattle is investigating the malfunction. An independent expert, as well as an expert from the engine’s manufacturer, Emergency One, will conduct the investigation, the release states.

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Fundraiser and memorial scheduled for fire victims

June 14th, 2010 by Geeky Swedes

Neighbors are gathering tonight at 330 NW 41st St (map) for a potluck fundraiser starting at 6 p.m.

Jessica Vets with the Fremont Chamber tells us that “This gathering will be a place to make donations, come and share grief and support the family.” Bring some “food, donations, a hug, a joke or a tear,” Vets says.

So far an account has not been set up for people to make direct donations to, although Vets tells us that it’s in the works. Until then, people can drop off donations at the Red Door (3401 Evanston Ave N) or attend tonight’s potluck.

A public memorial service for the victims of the fire has been scheduled for this Friday at Key Arena from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (please note this is a change of location).

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No fire department cuts in wake of Fremont fire

June 14th, 2010 by Doug Alder

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has decided not to make any cuts to the fire department in the wake of Saturday’s deadly fire here in Fremont.  Mid-year budget cuts were announced this morning.

“In light of the tragic events in Fremont over the weekend, the mayor is not proposing any reductions to the fire department to give us time and to give us an opportunity to fully evaluate and review safety implications of changes in the fire department’s budget,” said Beth Goldberg with the city budget office.

The mayor decided to fully fund all community centers and swimming pools across the city.  The only areas that took a big hit in the Parks budget were wading pools and park maintenance.  The nearby Gilman wading pool will be closed this summer, and the East Queen Anne wading pool will only operate 3 days a week.  You can see the complete list of cuts here.

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Senator honored by Seattle Against Slavery

June 14th, 2010 by Geeky Swedes

36th District Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles has been honored by Seattle Against Slavery with the Lincoln Freedom Award for her efforts and accomplishments in preventing human trafficking.

Kohl-Welles has been working on the issue since 2002 with the enactment of her bill regulating the mail-order-bride industry. She most recently sponsored a bill, which was signed into law, which authorizes the Department of Transportation to work with human trafficking advocates to place informational posters on trafficking at rest areas throughout out state. Another bill which she sponsored, and also signed into law, strengthens 2009 legislation that required international labor recruiters and domestic employers of foreign workers to disclose federal and state labor laws to non-immigrant workers.

“The legislative accomplishments we have made over the years would have never come about without the tireless work from advocates and community organizations,” Kohl-Welles said. “The fact that this award comes from them, makes it even more special.”

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Family and friends share memories of those lost

June 13th, 2010 by Geeky Swedes

Throughout the day, hundreds of mourners are coming and going from the Yesler Community Center, remembering the five lives lost in the deadly Fremont fire Saturday morning. Daniel Gebregiorgis, the brother and uncle to the victims, spoke to the media outside this afternoon.

“My family and community are in shock and disbelief,” he said, reading from a prepared statement. “Just the night before, the whole family went out and watched Karate Kid, and that evening, they all went back to my sister’s house for a sleepover.” When he talked about his oldest nephew, Joseph Gebregiorgis, tears began to well up in his eyes. “Joseph was a 7th grader at Whitman Middle School, loved basketball,” he said. “Big Boston celtics fan. I owed him a movie. We made a bet. I had the Lakers winning that game the other night…. We were going to see Toy Story 3 when that came out.”

Joseph was the oldest of the children at 13. Nyella Smith (above) was 7 years old. Nisreen Shamam was 6. Yaseen Shaman had just turned 5 last week. And Eyerusalem Gebregiorgis was 22 years old.

Friends of the kids gathered around with the media to share their memories. “You feel it when they’re not around for a couple days,” said Shantier Johnson. “It hurts more than anything I’ve ever felt. This is real. This is reality. It’s crazy, because they’re not coming back, you know?”

The family and friends are setting up a bank account tomorrow where donations can be made. Until then, you can drop off donations at the Yesler Community Center, 917 East Yesler Way.

Earlier: Chief defends firefighters in deadly blaze

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