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Monday, August 13, 2007

What’s the Matter With Wallingford?

posted by on August 13 at 9:06 AM

So I rode through Gasworks on Saturday night, shortly before guest started arriving for the super-duper-top-secret, splashed-all-over-every-newspaper-and-blog-in-town party. I rode right through security somehow—not intentionally, it’s just that no one asked me to stop—and quickly ran into Someone I Knew (SIK). SIK kindly escorted me from the closed section of the park, groused about his crack security detail, and told me in confidence just who was celebrating what.

SIK also told me that, just a few moments before I breached security, a Wallingford resident—one of the with-friends-like-these-who-needs-enemies “friends” of Gasworks Park—had treated him to a screaming fit. SIK told this “friend” of Gasworks that parks all over the city can be rented for weddings, and the “friend” of Gasworks insisted that his wasn’t the case, that it was theft, that it was a public park and what SIK and his crew were doing was illegal, blah blah BLAH.

Most of the park was open to the public, including a large lawn right next to the spot where the tents were set-up—the perfect spot to watch the fireworks display later that night.

I took my son’s dog for a walk after I got home from my party-crashin’ bike ride… and what do you know? There was a wedding in Volunteer Park the same night. Most of the lawn in front of the Seattle Asian Art Museum was covered by a huge white tent. That lawn not only has the best views of the Space Needle and the reservoir, but it also happens to be my son’s dog’s favorite place to take a shit. I noticed that a couple of other dog walkers—park regulars, always fully clothed—nearby; apparently that lawn is a favorite for lots of neighborhood dogs. The best man was giving a speech about the lucky couple—when they met, when he first realized it was serious, how nervous the groom was the first time he met his future in-laws. The folks with dogs standing outside the tent joined in the applause at the end of the speech, and then strolled off to find other places for their dogs to crap.

No one screamed “theft!,” and no one threatened to sue. Everyone in the neighborhood seemed genuinely happy for the couple. The next day we got our park back, no harm done.

RSS icon Comments


Doesn't sound like that Volunteer Park wedding had quite as much security. Not that I'm complaining, mind, but it seems like that's what the Friends were crying foul about. Most sane people wouldn't crash a wedding in a public park, but it's only democratic to give them the choice to do so without the threat of private guards.

Posted by Ziggity | August 13, 2007 9:32 AM

The self-proclaimed "Friends of Gasworks Park" treat the park as if it's their own personal backyard.

Posted by grr | August 13, 2007 9:36 AM

It's a good question, but it seems like a uniquely Seattle kind of thing. When I went to Folklife, there was some jackass trying to get me to sign a petition to prevent the Seattle Center from selling advertising on their light poles. And of course, we have all the people who believe that Seattle Center is a "sacred space."

I think they have a case of ridiculous idealism, some idea that the public parks should be totally free from commercial influence. It's coupled with a lack of understanding that properly managed commercial and private events provide valuable supplemental income to the parks budget.

Or it could be that they're a bunch of rich fuckers who think they own Gasworks Park.

As for Volunteer Park, I think the locals are used to the park being commandeered for, um, unorthodox purposes.

Posted by Gitai | August 13, 2007 9:39 AM

no, "normal" citizens can rent public spaces for events, we just don't have the right to keep people out of those events. apparently when you have enough "money", you can close a "public" space.

everyone wants, and should have, "equal" access to public spaces.

Posted by mark | August 13, 2007 9:42 AM

The only "activity" welcome in Wallingford is leveling 1200 square foot bungalows and replacing them with 4000 square foot zero-lot line monster houses. Anything else is strictly verboten in the name of precious neighborhood integrity.

Posted by Westside forever | August 13, 2007 9:42 AM

There is nothing unorthodox about fucking in the bushes. Just use protection!!

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | August 13, 2007 9:42 AM

So Dan, did the Volunteer Park event shut the most desirable part of that park off from public access for almost a week?

Better analogies, please.

Posted by Mr. X | August 13, 2007 9:49 AM

If you want to talk about "theft" of parks, you really should mention Seafair. I live 2 blocks from Genesee Park, where I take my dog every day (he loves to poo there). Every year Seafair chain-links off almost the entire park in preparation for the ensuing 3-day long redneck rape. After the hydros and the Blue Angels have gone, the neighborhood is left with an ugly moonscape for a park: grass trampled dead and brown, huge flocks of seagulls and crows picking through mounds of garbage scattered all over the place, and the stench of port-O-potties still wafting through the air. Yum.

Posted by jameyb | August 13, 2007 9:52 AM

Well, from that 'Friend's' view, the wedding did ruin one of the four August saturday afternoon for Frisbee Golf. This city gives no recognition for the DIY Frisbee Golf community of Seattle. If the city would only dedicate an area to that sport, like they do for bocce ball, soccer, dog running, swimming, softball, skateboarding, baseball, basketball, tennis, putt-putt golf, walking, jogging, and picnics, confrontations like those would not occur.

Posted by The Peanut Gallery | August 13, 2007 9:53 AM

I would say this Wallingford community blog that was set up to police the park by Cheryl Trevison and friends says it all - full of conspiracy, misinformation and all kinds of wacky NIMBY fun - going strong since they "shut down" the concert series!

Posted by ugh | August 13, 2007 9:54 AM

Sounds like Wallingford has a giant iron rod stuck up their collective asses.

Posted by seattle98104 | August 13, 2007 10:02 AM

I take my dog to Gasworks Park all the time. On Friday we walked down to the park and when she took a giant steaming shit, I decided not to clean it up, in hopes that a guest of Gaswork's biggest bash in history might step in it.

Posted by gooseworks | August 13, 2007 10:04 AM

Wrong answer, Dan. Sure, you can rent a park for a day, but Gasworks was shut down and commandeered for most of the week prior.

So how much did Mr. Sloan pay you to write this?

Posted by Gomez | August 13, 2007 10:07 AM

So-called "neighborhood" activists are the bane of this city. We as a city need to come together and collectively bitch-slap these whiners.

Posted by Sean | August 13, 2007 10:09 AM

@ 12, that was super mature of you, and ineffective too since it's likely that the groundskeepers setting up found it and picked it up long before any partiers showed up. Bra - vo.

Posted by Matt from Denver | August 13, 2007 10:12 AM

Not a cent, Gomez. Nice free fireworks show, huh?

And speaking of thefts-of-parks, Hempfest is coming up. How long do they occupy Myrtle Edwards? I like to bike through that park two or three times a week. And when Hempfest is in there, I can't bike through the park without thirty or forty pot brownies winding up in my mouth. Damn dirty hippies.

Posted by Dan Savage | August 13, 2007 10:13 AM

Wah, wah! Someone has more money than me. Wah, wah. They rented park. Wah! In theory, this could have inconvenienced me! Wah! No fair! Wah!

Posted by baby | August 13, 2007 10:15 AM

Huh, guess Dan's friend's security detail was really lax then Gomez, since my Wednesday evening sojourn up to the top of Kite Hill went completely unchallenged.

And apparently, I wasn't the only one to surreptitiously slip into the "shut down" and "commandeered park", judging from the number of other people I saw walking, biking, and lounging around.

Posted by COMTE | August 13, 2007 10:21 AM

man, don't tell anyone in Wallingford what happens to the Center when Bumbershoot or the Bite of Seattle goes down. They might suffer a fucking heart attack.

Posted by seattle98104 | August 13, 2007 10:23 AM

I WOULD like to know how much money the city charged to rent the park for a private event and who exactly gets that money....

also, all 'friends' of parks who bitch about this shit are usually self centered jerks...what it boils down to is that they want the parks to themselves and do not like sharing with 'outsiders'...i can kinda see bitching about rich folks renting a park for a week and being a pain, but these are the same yutzs who drove away the concert series and the same type who had fits about Pride in Volunteer Park...

plus, this city has more important things to worry about, like mass transit and out of control and poorly planned development...

Posted by michael strangeways | August 13, 2007 10:25 AM

what @14 said.

Posted by amen | August 13, 2007 10:27 AM
This city gives no recognition for the DIY Frisbee Golf community of Seattle.

If you think frisbee golfers don't get any recognition, try finding a place to joust in this city.

Posted by Knight | August 13, 2007 10:28 AM

@10: Well, to be fair, Cheryl Trivison's husband, famed local landscape architect Richard Haag now in his late '80s, designed Gasworks Park. I can see why she has a personal mission to not see it trampled. However, everyone else can just calm the hell down!

If the park was taken over by the uber rich every weekend, that would be one thing. But this seems to be a one-shot deal. Big deal.

And right on #17 Baby!

Posted by la | August 13, 2007 10:33 AM

As I understand it, there are certain areas of Volunteer Park where jousting is absolutely de rigeur.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | August 13, 2007 10:34 AM

By the way, the birthday boy Stuart Sloan donated millions of dollars to TT Minor, one of the neediest elementary schools in the Seattle District. In addition to lowering class sizes and buying computers, much of the money was spent on providing basic needs like food, clothing, hygiene, and reliable adult relationships for kids who weren't getting that stuff at home.

I say happy birthday, Stu.

Posted by Sean | August 13, 2007 10:42 AM

i don't care who rents any park in town, as long as there are free fireworks. people are really freaking the fuck out about this. seems a bit sour grapes.

the SPD should herd all the troublemaking scallywags from 3rd & pine over to wallingford and give the neighborhood something real to bitch about.

Posted by kerri harrop | August 13, 2007 10:42 AM

Right fucking on, Kerri.

Posted by Dan Savage | August 13, 2007 10:45 AM

No one has mentioned (or been made aware of, perhaps) that the majority of Lake Union was shut down for a good hour, at least. There were at least 20 boat cops on the lake, in precision formation, making sure no one could enter the lake from either side. So if you happened to be boating that night, you were screwed on access from the Locks to Lake Washington, not to mention Lake Union itself. From what I could see, they were even kicking out kayakers and the like. They don't even have that tight of security for the 4th of July. And that wedding fucker better have been paying for the massive extra lake security.

Those bandshells & tents were set up 7 days in advance and are STILL THERE, 8 days later. WTF?

Posted by joolz | August 13, 2007 10:56 AM

@9: There is a permanent frisbee golf course at Mineral Springs Park. And apparently another one in White Center at Lakewood Park.

Posted by Greg Barnes | August 13, 2007 10:59 AM

*Off Topic* - Dan, why do you refer to the dog as "my son's dog"? Is the dog not a part of the family? Are you going to make him take the dog with him to college? It sounds a little passive aggressive, but I am probably just bitter towards my mom, who would perpetually make me feel guilty that she was taking care of "my" cat, which we got based on my request when I was 7 (like I was old enough to plan for 20 years of cat maintenance). So just a warning, don't get all "Your dog this, your dog that," with your son. Call me protective.

Posted by Jude Fawley | August 13, 2007 11:10 AM

Oh hell I might as well add my two cents. I worked at the party as a performer and wrote a piece about it at:

Posted by artistdogboy | August 13, 2007 11:11 AM

From 43rd Street, the view of the fireworks was great. My daughter didn't even have to stay up very late to see them. No complaints here!

Posted by Also In Wallingford | August 13, 2007 11:18 AM

Mark @4-- read the permits. The people who rent part of a city park do indeed have the right to admit only invited guests. That applies to two-bit birthday parties for your 7 year old, as it does to huge, vulgar displays of wealth.

By the way, the fireworks were awesome, but is anyone else wondering why there was no propane fireball as promised?

Posted by jmurphy | August 13, 2007 11:23 AM

@31 - well said. Curious, what kind of performance do you do?

Posted by Sean | August 13, 2007 11:30 AM

Hempfest is a public event, Dan. This was a private party, closed to the public.

Posted by Gomez | August 13, 2007 11:51 AM


Did YOU read them? Jackass.

The park remains open to the public at all times during a ceremony"

Posted by mark | August 13, 2007 11:56 AM

We're currently on the fast track to becoming a city of NIMBYs. Skate parks, bars, clubs, and now people freaking the fuck out over something as small as this that only lasted for one day. Nevermind the fact that Sloan has given millions of dollars to local schools, he should only be allowed to swim around in his vault full of gold coins.

All you crybabies can move your whiny asses to the eastside. You'll fit right in.

Posted by T | August 13, 2007 12:10 PM

@33: The propane thing happened, it was maybe 5-10 minutes after the fireworks stopped.

I hung out for a bit after the fireworks hoping for it. After a few minutes, I saw a light show playing on the towers at Gasworks, followed by the big fireball. Everybody else watching from where I was over on eastlake had headed home by then, thought that was too bad. It was neat, though!

Posted by Russell | August 13, 2007 12:20 PM

Mark @ 36 - @33 is correct, the parks do remain open, the rented little corner of the park is closed or open as the person paying sees fit. A person who rents a cabana at Green Lake gets to say who sits there during the rental period. A park never completely closes.

Posted by Phenics | August 13, 2007 12:28 PM

Mark @36,

This wasn't a wedding, was it? The way I read it, this was a party celebrating the wedding... a reception if you will. Your link only applies to Weddings.

Other links on the Parks site make referrence to "limiting access" to parts of parks, and the "Park Use Permit" application PDF makes no mention at all of whether or not the park must remain open.

Posted by Phelix | August 13, 2007 12:40 PM

Jude Fawley @30 - I had the very same split second "huh?" reaction when I read "my son's dog" - what an odd way to characterize a pet.

Posted by mary | August 13, 2007 1:12 PM

I live in Wallingford, and would like to apologize for my ass-crazy, nazi-suburban-neighborhood-association-wannabe neighbors. I wish Summer Nights at the Pier were at Gasworks. I wish they did all kinds of BIG public events there. It's such a great space!!! And other than the condos that are directly across the street from one very small section of the park, there is no housing for at least 2 blocks. These screamers are the same ilk as those bitching and moaning about Woodland Park.

Screw them. If they have no interest in anything than their ONE DAY OF INCONVENIENCE, then they should move the fuck out of the neighborhood, and let us who are active in the community, keep the community ACTIVE.

Posted by louley | August 13, 2007 1:43 PM

Lordy me what a messy thread. The fireworks were a treat for anyone who watched them, the display of ostentatious wealth truly un-Seattle and very much appreciated (for now...if it happened all the time it might get tired), and good god almighty do Seattle's disc golf courses suck. The ones in Northgate and White Center are TERRIBLE. As usual, and similar to our wretched lack of decent skate parks, BMX courses, jai alai and other alternative sports venues compared to, say Portland. For comparison, start here:

Posted by Pomme Fritz | August 13, 2007 1:50 PM

I hear that, louley. I live maybe eight blocks away from the park, and I'd love it if they had more jumpin' going on at Gasworks. What the fuck is the point of a park, otherwise? Flying kites? Holy shit, how much more awesome would it be if they held festivals and public events there? I'm not going to shit myself because someone with a lot more money is willing to pay it to the city. And the fireworks were sweet.

Posted by stiletto | August 13, 2007 1:52 PM

I second the last few posts. I live about 4 blocks from there and absolutely loved it. We had a great view down Burke Ave, and these were some of the most amazing fireworks I've seen in years. Sure, my dog barked a little, but my 4-year-old slept right through it. My 6-year-old woke up and got to enjoy the show too. I'm thoroughly embarrassed by some of my Wallingford neighbors. Living in a city means you're sometimes inconvenienced by others. Can't walk your favorite path for a few days? Explore another. Can't kayak across the lake at 10pm one night? Geez, sorry. And to anyone anywhere who said there was no warning: Liars. You just weren't paying attention. It was in both dailies as well as this and a ton of other blogs. Get a freakin' grip people. I wish there were more rich people shooting off fireworks.

Posted by C | August 13, 2007 3:51 PM

Hey Gomez 13: Gas Works was NOT "shut down...for most of the week." If you had taken the time to actually go to the park and ask, any of the workers would have told you that while they were setting up and tearing down the party, the public was free to access the area. The only time that it was shut down was for the actual party on Saturday. Oh, and the accusations that some other fuckwad made about putting stakes into the ground at Gas Works - The whole reason it took them so long to set up that party was because they had to do the whole thing without putting ANY stakes in the ground! Talk to other people and take a moment to think before you open your own pie-hole, I say.

Posted by Sanity Sam | August 13, 2007 3:51 PM

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