EDMONDS — He’s an Edmonds kind of guy.
After Shubert Ho was chosen grand marshal of the city’s Fourth of July parade he cooked up a grand scheme.
The 36-year-old restaurateur had aspirations beyond leading the massive party where some 20,000 line the parade route. Ho wanted spectators to be part of the show and for firefighters to benefit.
He launched his own fundraiser with special “Edmonds Kind of 4th” T-shirts, tank tops and hats to support the nonprofit South County Firefighters Foundation in gratitude for them saving his business in an April fire.
“They have big jobs to do. They do good work and keep us safe,” he said.
He’s pretty busy himself.
Ho is co-owner and executive chef of Feedme Hospitality and Restaurant Group, which includes Main Street restaurants Salt & Iron and Mar-Ket Fishmonger and Eatery, Bar Dojo in the Five Corners neighborhood, Dojo Togo food truck, and Shooby Doo catering. He plans to open a sushi restaurant downtown in the fall.
The California native decided in high school that he wanted to be a chef instead of an electrical engineer. “The rest is history,” he said
He and his wife, Mira, a Hazelwood Elementary teacher, moved from Seattle to Edmonds in 2006 and are involved in community philanthropy and arts. They have two daughters.
“Life for us is Edmonds, basically,” Ho said.
Still, he was surprised when the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce invited him to lead the parade.
After all, he’s, well, young.
“Usually it’s someone who has lived a little longer,” Ho said. “I never thought I’d be asked.”
Greg Urban, president of Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, said Ho was chosen for his contributions.
“He has dedicated his expansion of his business efforts in Edmonds,” Urban said. “There have been a number of people who have come up through him and working for him and opened their own businesses.”
And, yes, Ho is the first millennial marshal of the annual tradition that the chamber has been putting on since 1907.
“His first comment when I offered it to him was, ‘I’m probably going to be the first under-40 grand marshal of this parade,’” Urban said
Ho accepted without hesitation, and with humility.
“I thought, how can I promote the town as well as show my patriotic duties? And I thought of firefighters first because they saved our building in Bar Dojo.”
The fire was in an outbuilding on a neighboring property of the strip plaza east of downtown.
“There were flames about 50 feet tall,” Ho said. “It could have very well burned down everything around it, the flames were that big. It even engulfed a tree next to it.”
Bar Dojo sustained minimal smoke damage.
“I talked to a couple firefighters there and I thanked them,” Ho said.
South County’s Edmonds Esperance Fire Station 20 was the first company on scene. Ho recently went to the station with shirts and had them model for the sale.
“They are pretty darn comfortable and fashionable, too,” said Justin Pickens, firefighter paramedic at Station 20.
The money raised is to help people in the community, not the firefighters. It will go for taxi vouchers, food, medications and other items for people in need.
“It is basically for things we encounter on calls that go outside of the scope of emergency response,” Pickens said. “The biggest source of (foundation) funding is voluntary, through our own employees direct payroll deductions.”
The backs of the shirts have the logos for the firefighters foundation and Ho’s restaurants.
Ho has been in previous parade cars to represent his eateries. For this new gig, he sought the advice of former grand marshal Ron Clyborne.
“I said, ‘Hey, you have any tips?’ And he said, ‘Just have fun and smile and wave. That’s it,’” Ho said.
Ho will be in a 1967 Thunderbird convertible that has been loaned out for the parade.
“That’s a great honor as well,” he said.
He hopes a lot of people will show up in “Edmonds Kind of 4th” shirts, which will be sold in front of his Main Street restaurants all week. Items are priced $19 to $29. He’ll have several on hand for himself.
“I haven’t decided if I’m wearing a tank top or a T-shirt,” Ho said. “My wife says a T-shirt might be more appropriate for the front of the parade.”