National contest brings glimmer of hope to Snohomish during COVID-19 pandemic

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SNOHOMISH, Wash. -- In these times of despair during the COVID-19 pandemic, one small town is hopeful. The City of Snohomish is in the running for a national competition recognizing its historic downtown.

The “2020 America’s Main Streets” contest is presented by STIHL and its Independent We Stand movement. The national competition is recognizing the uniqueness of 160 small towns. The people of Snohomish voted so much, the town is now a top 10 finalist—the only city from the west coast left in the race.

“I feel like we’re doing the Super Bowl and we’re waiting for Russell Wilson to make that last past! We are so close! That’s what we just need. Come on, Washington!” said Terry Schuler, executive director of the Historic Downtown Snohomish Association.

The grand prize is $25,000 cash. Schuler said, should Snohomish win, the money will be used rebuild a new gazebo downtown. The old, beloved structure is widely used by residents and tourists. A new one would also include solar lights for more people to enjoy at night. Schuler said the national spotlight alone could lead to economic gains.

“After seeing this and seeing the publicity and what a wonderful little town it is that people will say ‘I think I want to see that town’,” said Schuler. “We have the river, we have the river trail and we have the centennial trail. We have so many things in Snohomish.”

Small business owners in downtown Snohomish said COVID-19 has greatly impacted their livelihoods. They also said the community support to their stores and the competition is helping them see the brighter side of things.

“Any exposure that promotes this town will greatly help all the people who have been impacted by all of this,” said Christa Soteros-Lorrigan, owner of Christa’s Sandwichboard in downtown Snohomish.

Soteros-Lorrigan said her business is down to their last couple of employees. She said had to lay off most of the staff to make ends meets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would probably say we’re down 85 percent,” said Soteros-Lorrigan. “We run a cash business here. So, we try to keep everything paid as it comes in.”

Keeping the bills paid has been a struggle for many small businesses downtown and across Snohomish since the coronavirus outbreak. Despite the tough times, Soteros-Lorrigan said the America’s Main Streets competition has helped boost morale, build camaraderie, and give people a small glimmer of hope.

“Everybody’s been voting, I voted. All the people are voting. It’s to recognize small town feeling, small town businesses and to just appreciate small town,” said Soteros-Lorrigan. “It’s pretty amazing and the people here are phenomenal. They’re just an amazing group of Snohomies.”

Voting ends on Sunday, May 24th. Participants can vote up to 25 times per day on multiple devices. The Historic Downtown Snohomish Association has more information about the competition on its website.

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