And They Championed: Gig Harbor Park(ing) Day
Featured in the October 2017 Issue of Gig Harbor Living Local
By Brett Marlo DeSantis
If you didn’t make downtown on September 15th or 16th, here’s what you missed.
We managed to put on our first Park(ing) Day event! Most parklets were in groups: Pioneer, Harborview, Skansie Park, Millville, Donkey Creek and Finholm. If you didn’t know what to expect with this event, you weren’t alone. The main goal was to increase community conversations and awareness of each other and how we can connect in our built environment by temporarily turning on-street parking spots into public spaces.
Congratulations to the winners! The prizes for participation were $250.00 for best parklet and socializer. Best Parklet went to the Gig Harbor Canoe & Kayak Racing Team. They rocked their parklet with their regatta tent and Kayak ERG. They gave out free lessons in racing kayak technique from head coach Alan Anderson and had team athletes, ages 13 to 80, hang out at the park to talk with community members. One of their board members said that she felt the community connections they made from those two days were invaluable and they can’t wait to do it again!
Best Socializer went to Brittany Peyrot! Brittany brought her talent and love for community using the street as a stage to play piano, teach piano and share her ideas. She even returned the next day with friends in tow!So who took the plunge for the first Gig Harbor Park(ing) Day? It started with giant Jenga at William’s Flowers and an outdoor men’s waiting room at Sharon’s consignment. Kelly’s Café had a double parklet ͞fishbowl͟ football area. Some Kelly’s employees were spotted sneaking out to toss the ball around the parklet!
Gig Harbor Audio played a jazz mix tape on a Sony Reel-to-Reel, Yamaha WXA-50 integrated amplifier and GHA custom ͞Fuzzy Speakers.͟ They gave away vinyl records. The Pierce County library was set up with a miniature library area; rug, chairs, bookcases, even a hammock! They gave away over forty books to those who stopped to say hello. All Star Guitar was rocking the street and handing out guitar picks. Alinda Morris Design had a sweet set-up with carpet tiles, chairs and a wishing tree. She rocked the parklet designer style. Java & Clay café dressed our streets up café style.
The Gig Harbor Dragonboat team tattoeed little ones with colorful dragons, treated dogs to healthy snacks and chatted with all those wandering the sidewalk. Clearly, they chat well because they had over 30 new sign-ups for paddling! They will be adding two new practice dates to accommodate all the interest from parking day alone.
Harbor Wild Watch’s parklet led by Executive Director Lindsey Stover interacted with over 50 people in a four hour period, and reported that half of them had no idea that they even existed. The simple act of being outside in an unusual space spurred curiosity and increased engagement. In the Donkey Creek area, there were interactive activities as well. A rock painting station was a great stop for families.
The Harbor History Museum engaged participants showing the past, present and asking about the future. Gig Harbor morning Rotary placed a piano in the street to play, and asked the community whether they would want to see a public street piano. If so, what would they paint on it and where would they put it? Many stopped to play, and there is some serious talent right here in Gig Harbor!
The Greater Gig Harbor Foundation prepared a vegetable soup recipe that they shared with visitors while collecting food donations for the Community Harvest Project. The soup was so yummy children were asking for multiple servings! The recipe was right out of the #communityharvest project cookbook.
Seahags and the Downtown Waterfront Alliance were excited to participate and loved leaving their four walls behind to create a venue for communication that might not have otherwise occurred. If you would like to be champion on Park(ing) Day next year, it’s never too early to put it out there.
Contact the Downtown Waterfront Alliance and let them know; what do you think Gig Harbor?