News Blog for Seattle's Wallingford Neighborhood

 

Video: Gas Works Park's unique history

April 8th, 2011 by master

Gas Works Park is a treasured part of Wallingford, the stage for many summer events, and a favorite tourist stop. But do you know much about its history?

The Center for Creative Land Recycling produced this video, using dozens of historical photos to show the evolution of Gas Works Park. Landscape architect Richard Haag describes in the video: “This is the first time in history that an industrial site was converted into a park without complete demolition of the structure. It’s unique.”

Recycling Gas Works Park from CCLR on Vimeo.

Here’s a tidbit from Wikipedia that was news to us: “It was originally named Myrtle Edwards Park, after the city councilwoman who had spearheaded the drive to acquire the site and who died in a car crash in 1969. In 1972, the Edwards family requested that her name be taken off the park because the design called for the retention of much of the plant.”

Haag went on to receive the American Society of Landscape Architects Award for design excellence for his Gas Works Park design.

Thanks to David Albright for sharing this video with us.

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No Tour de Fat this year at Gas Works

March 29th, 2011 by master

Bummer news for beer lovers and bicyclists: New Belgium’s Tour de Fat won’t stop at Wallingford’s Gas Works Park (or anywhere in Seattle) this year.

We learned through Seattle Bike Blog that the popular traveling festival, which has stopped in Seattle for the past 11 years, will skip both our town and bike-crazy Portland. The explanation appeared on The Tour de Fat’s Facebook page:

After eleven years in Seattle and six years in Portland, the Tour de Fat is moving on to spread the bike love to Durham, NC and Nashville, TN. Seattle and Portland, your bike scenes are idyllic (big love) and you’ve had a huge impact on shaping the Tour de Fat over the years. This year we will be spreading the bike culture we all share to new parts of the country where it’s still developing. Thank you for all the good times and great memories.

See our coverage of last year’s Tour here.

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Fireworks attendance lower than expected

July 5th, 2010 by master

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the rain dampened attendance last night at the Family 4th fireworks show at Gas Works. With 50,000 or so expected, today One Reel put the official tally at 31,000.

“This is definitely lower than we anticipated and hoped for given the amazing circumstances surrounding the event this year,” One Reel’s Mikhael Mei Williams told My Wallingford. “We’re very pleased with the show and the reaction and feedback we received from people who did join us in the park was that it was the best show they’d ever seen! It really was a pretty magical day; even with the rain it couldn’t dampen the spirit of the event!”

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July 4th: Wallingford's daylong party & traffic jam

July 5th, 2010 by master

As the hosting neighborhood for the July Fourth fireworks, Wallingford swarms with cars, pedestrians and cyclists all day long.

At noon the Family 4th festivities began at Gas Works Park, and the Seattle Police Department blocked off nearby streets to ease congestion. We talked with two officers at N. 39th and Bagley, who said that last year there were officers at almost every blocked corner, but this year their numbers were cut by more than half. “The traffic’s always a mess,” said one officer, “but now people have to wander around to find someone to help them [get through the barricades].”

At 6:30 p.m. QFC was busy with shoppers stocking up for the trek down to Gas Works or for their celebrations closer to home. “Everyone was talking about the fireworks,” reader Vicki told us. Unsurprisingly, beer was the hottest seller.

As many fireworks fans know, you don’t need to go all the way to Gas Works for a great view of the pyrotechnic display. Each year, people emerge from their houses or stop on the streets below N. 45th that offer sight lines down to Lake Union.

Wide Wallingford Ave. has long been a prime fireworks-watching spot, and with the streets closed below N. 39th, the throngs know where to go.

After the fireworks, private shows of their own began in backyards, street corners and at Wallingford Playfield and Meridian Park. The explosions were persistent until about midnight. We were grateful that the cool night let us close all our windows.

Along N. 45th St., traffic moved smoothly, and the backups above the main drag seemed lighter than in recent years.

We talked with revelers along Burke Ave. close to Gas Works who told us that many neighbors leave for the Fourth of July to avoid all the commotion. It’s true, Wallingford does seem to become one big, loud party every Independence Day.

See also: Fireworks attendance much lower than expected
Plus: Thousands brave the rain with any shelter they can find

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Scenes from a soggy Family 4th at Gas Works Park

July 4th, 2010 by master

Ah, nothing like a summer’s day in the park. Thousands arrived at Gas Works Park by mid-afternoon for the Family 4th celebration leading up to the night’s fireworks.

On a chilly day, under threatening skies, kids made kites and flew them on Kite Hill.

Photo by Margret Maria Cordts.

When we arrived at Gas Works at around 3:30, a light drizzle had begun to fall.

Clearly some fireworks fans were more prepared than others for the steady drizzle, showers, and other descriptions the moisture that blanketed the park.

This party showed up at 7 a.m. and said they were in fourth in line.

This group tried to rig up a makeshift tent using blankets.

“It’s a blue tarp Fourth of July,” said La’akea, who sat with her friends under umbrellas, plastic bags and a large blue tarp. They arrived before the rain began to fall and grabbed a premium spot at the base of the hill, right in front of the water.

“We’ve been coming for 7 years in a row, and we’re not giving up,” her friend Jean said. “We’re not ready to throw in the towel.” They laughed. “It’s an experience.”

Wallingford businesses were out in the soggy bog. Fuerte Fitness, whose inflatable sumo wrestling was popular, folded up early because its area was turning into a slip ‘n’ slide.

The Wallingford Chamber of Commerce and Not a Number had set up a tater tot toss (using plastic tots) and were selling raffle tickets (including prizes from 4 Your Eyes Only, Joule, Trophy Cupcakes and many others) to benefit the Senior Center.

Speaking of Trophy, their cake walk was a popular (and covered) sweet spot in the park.

By 5:00 there was a bona fide exodus from the park. The folks from One Reel couldn’t say the ratio of people leaving to arriving, but there was no line to get into Gas Works at 5:00, and there had been a short wait 90 minutes earlier.

Many sought shelter from the rain in “The Barn.”

One Reel spokesperson Mikhael Mei Williams told us she was checking numerous weather forecasts and was hopeful that the rain would stop around 8:00 p.m.

While most of the food vendors were empty, the line for coffee stretched for 50 feet…

At the lake’s edge, many of the donors who gave to save the fireworks show were treated to hot dogs, corn, potato salad and cobbler — served by none other than chef Tom Douglas himself. Douglas spearheaded the fundraising effort when Chase Bank decided not to renew its sponsorship.

“We’re out here because it’s the right thing to do,” Douglas said. “We don’t need any banks to pull this off — we can do it ourselves.”

After hours of precipitation, the forecasts proved correct. The rain cleared, the clouds didn’t impede a view of the fireworks, and the show seemed to go off flawlessly.

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Fourth of July fireworks fundamentals

July 2nd, 2010 by master

If you’re staying in town this weekend and plan to see the fireworks over Lake Union this Independence Day, here’s a primer on all things fireworks. For even more information, see the Family 4th site.

The Big Event: Family 4th at Gas Works Park
One Reel’s Family 4th event begins at noon at Gas Works Park. The free festival will attract tens of thousands of merrymakers and feature kite making and flying, face painting, climbing walls, a giant inflatable slide and obstacle course, a bungee trampoline platform, and more activities.

Wallingford businesses Not a Number, Trophy Cupcakes, and Fuerte Fitness will entertain with a game show, cake walk, and inflatable sumo wrestling (in that order, yes).

Beloved Seattle band Presidents of the United States of America are slated to play before and after the fireworks.

The fireworks show itself will begin around 10 p.m. Preparations have begun:

There will be two entrances to the park open on July 4: one on the north end of the parking lot and the other to the south.

Leave these items at home — they won’t be permitted into Gas Works Park during Family 4th:

  • Pets
  • Personal barbecues (There are barbecues available on site.)
  • Alcoholic beverages (You may purchase beer and wine in the beer garden with proper ID.)
  • Fireworks
  • No staking the parks grounds (i.e. no tent stakes)
  • Weapons of any sort—firearms, knives, etc.

Parking
Unless you live, work or can prove you need to be in the area, the streets around Gas Works Park will be off limits beginning at noon on Sunday.

The streets of Wallingford get clogged before the fireworks and traffic moves at a glacial pace for a couple of hours after the last explosion.

One Reel strongly suggests you walk or bike to the fireworks show — they’ll set up an express access bike entrance on the northwest side of the park and offer a dedicated bike parking area inside. You should plan on a very long wait for the buses after the fireworks too.

Where Else to Watch
Most areas ringing Lake Union provide good views of the fireworks. One popular spot, Lake Union Park on South Lake Union, will be closed for fireworks viewing this year (it accommodated 2000 last year).

Prefer the comfort of your home? Unless you have a view of Lake Union, turn on KING 5 to see the show.

Want to listen to music synchronized to the display? Tune in to 97.3 KIRO FM during the fireworks.

The Day After
We’ve never been to Gas Works Park on the morning of July 5, but can imagine it’s not a pretty sight. Starbucks, which donated $125,000 to the fireworks this year, is organizing the 5th of July Lake Union Cleanup:

In the spirit of keeping our neighborhoods clean and healthy and thanking our Lake Union neighbors for their hospitality, Starbucks is inviting community at large to join their partners (employees) to come out for a day of service to re-beautify the area.

Starbucks will not only coordinate the cleanup efforts on land, but will also sponsor the cleanup on Lake Union’s waters, which will be conducted by Puget Soundkeeper Alliance.

To sign up for the event and get additional details, visit starbucks.com/seattle and pugetsoundkeeper.org.

Stay Safe (and Don’t Annoy Your Neighbors)
Lastly, a safety reminder from the Seattle Police Department and Seattle Fire Department:

There are no legal fireworks in the City of Seattle.

The possession, manufacture, storage, sale, handling and use of fireworks are prohibited. Fireworks offenses are gross misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.

Fireworks pose a fire hazard to property and present a safety risk to those who use them. Every year the Seattle Fire Department responds to fireworks-related fires and injuries. Each and every one of these incidents could have been prevented.

On the 4th of July, 911 centers become overloaded with non-emergency fireworks calls. DO NOT call 911 unless you have a life-threatening emergency and need immediate help from police, fire or medics. Unnecessary 911 calls block people with real emergencies from reaching 911 and getting help.

Any fireworks-related fires or injuries should be reported directly to 911. Other fireworks violations may be reported by calling the Seattle Police non-emergency number at (206) 625-5011.

Hope you have a happy 4th!

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'Save the Fireworks' drive reaches $500K goal

April 2nd, 2010 by master

Update: Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has declared April 2, 2010, “The Day the People Saved the Fireworks.” Read the full declaration.

Just 24 hours after KIRO radio talk show host Dave Ross and restaurateur Tom Douglas began a pledge drive to return the Family 4th fireworks to Lake Union and Gas Works Park, the $500,000 goal has been reached.

Both Microsoft and Starbucks agreed to each pay $125,000 if other businesses and citizens pitched in the remaining $250,000. “We’re pleased to announce, with your help we have reached the goal of raising $500,000 in pledges. According to One Reel, the nonprofit that organizes the show, that is the amount needed to keep the show going,” an announcement posted on MyNorthwest.com states.

“The power of community is truly amazing,” Wallingford Chamber of Commerce president Kara Ceriello tells us. “It’s patriotic, it’s fun, it’s cool, it’s ours,” she says of the fireworks.

Mikhael Williams, spokesperson for One Reel, which has produced the event for more than 20 years, told us yesterday that Monday was the deadline to meet the goal.

(Full disclosure: Next Door Media, which powers MyWallingford.com, has donated to this fund.)

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