Explore Black History Month outdoors with Seattle Parks and Recreation

February is Black History Month, a time to recognize the achievement of local African American heroes and heroines. We invite the public to celebrate by visiting one of the many parks named for Seattle’s African American leaders, and to learn about their contributions to the city.

Dr. Blanche Lavizzo Park


This park is a narrow strip that connects S Jackson St. and E Yesler Way. Its many oak, poplar and other trees create a shady oasis in the middle of a busy urban area. The park also features a large grassy area with picnic tables, grills, a shelter house and a small amphitheater used for concerts and plays. Dr. Blanche Lavizzo was Washington State’s first African American woman pediatrician. Dr. Lavizzo moved to Seattle in 1956 and served as the first medical director of the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in Central Seattle. Lavizzo and her husband left medical practices in New Orleans in order to pursue careers in the Northwest.

Dr. Blanche Lavizzo. Photo courtesy of HistoryLink.org.

Dr. Blanche Lavizzo. Photo courtesy of HistoryLink.org.

Sam Smith Park


In September 1998, the central portion of the I-90 lid was renamed Sam Smith Park to honor Seattle’s first African American City Councilmember. In the course of a political career that spanned 34 years, Sam Smith served five terms in the Washington State Legislature (the second black member) and five terms on the Seattle City Council. Smith represented the 37th district in Olympia beginning in 1958. One of his priorities in Olympia was promoting a bill that banned discrimination based on religion and race in the rental or sale of homes.

Sam Smith Park encompasses the largest and most central part of the I-90 lid. It has a play area for children, picnic tables and tennis courts. It is the site of Blue Dog Pond and the Urban Peace Circle, a sculpture by Seattle sculptor Gerard Tsutakawa, dedicated to children killed by gun violence in Seattle’s inner city.

Sam Smith with a group from VFW in his office, May 1989. Photo courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives.

Sam Smith with a group from VFW in his office, May 1989.
Photo courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives.

Powell Barnett Park


This 4.4-acre park lies between East Alder and East Jefferson streets and was named for civil rights activist and community leader Powell Barnett in 1969. Barnett’s father, an ex-slave, was recruited to work in the coal mines in Roslyn, Washington in 1889. Barnett worked in the mines as a young man, but moved to Seattle in 1906 to explore other opportunities. He worked as a sub-foreman installing street car lines and later helped build downtown hotels. Barnett clerked for State Senator Frank Connor and served as a maintenance man at the King County Courthouse before retiring at age 71. Barnett is remembered for his passion to improve race relations in the city.

Powell Barnett being shown development plans by John O. Andrew, former Chair of the Board of Parks Commissioners (left), Hans A. Thompson, former Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent, and Roy Lehner of the David Jensen Association in October 1970. Photo courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives

Powell Barnett being shown development plans by John O. Andrew, former Chair of the Board of Parks Commissioners (left), Hans A. Thompson, former Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent, and Roy Lehner of the David Jensen Association in October 1970.
Photo courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives

Flo Ware Park


This park offers a vibrant play area for children, and was named for Flo Ware, a community activist who was dedicated to social change in health care and education systems for the poor and elderly populations 

Homer Harris Park


This park held its grand opening ceremony in 2005 to honor Dr. Harris E. Homer, a dominant athlete and physician. Homer began his athletic career at Garfield High School in the 1930s and later became an All-American football player at the University of Iowa. Because the National Football League was banning black players at the time of his graduation, Homer decided to pursue medical school and went on to become a prominent dermatologist in his hometown of Seattle.

Pratt Park


This neighborhood playground in central Seattle memorializes Edwin T. Pratt, the founder of the Central Area Motivation Program and the Seattle Opportunities Industrialization Center.

Walt Hundley Playfield


This community area includes soccer fields, tennis courts and baseball fields, and was named for Walter R. Hundley, the first African American superintendent for Seattle Parks and one of the first African Americans to head a major parks and recreation department in the United States. Hundley held his position from 1977 to 1988 and was instrumental to acquiring the High Point playfield that was later named after him.

Judge Charles M. Stokes Overlook

This beautiful green space and picnic area in the I-90 lid honors Charles Moorehouse Stokes. Stokes was elected to the Washington legislature in 1950 and served as the first black legislator from King County. He was appointed judge in 1968 and was the first black person on the King County District Court.

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Jefferson Community Center closed February 16


The Jefferson Community Center (3801 Beacon Ave. S) will be closed on February 16 for an all-staff safety training.

To find an alternative community center to use that day, please visit: https://www.seattle.gov/parks/find/centers/community-centers-a-z

For more information, please call the Jefferson Community Center at 206-684-7481.

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Loyal Heights’ pancake breakfast

Come hungry for all-you-can-eat pancakes! On March 5 from 8 a.m. to noon, enjoy the warm company of friends and neighbors with a stack of pancakes, eggs, and sizzling sausage at the annual Loyal Hieghts Pancake Breakfast. This event is the community center’s major fundraiser. All proceeds go to our scholarship fund benefiting families in need by providing opportunities to participate in programs and activities throughout the year.

Tickets are available for purchase now at the Loyal Heights Community Center, or you can get them upon arrival on the day of the breakfast.

$6 tickets; children three or younger eat free. Volunteers needed! Please contact the community center for details.

Loyal Heights Community Center, 2101 NW 77th St., Seattle, 98117. Phone: 206-684-4052.


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Golden Gardens upper trail closed Feb. 6-14 for restoration work

The upper trail (near the east entrance at 85th St.) at Golden Gardens Park will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. from Feb. 6-14 for trail restoration work. Questions? Contact Chakundi Salisbury, Trails Coordinator at 206-684-4122, or chukundi.Salisbury@seattle.gov.

golden gardens

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Empowering Men of Color in Seattle

build startBrothers United in Leadership Development (B.U.I.L.D.) is a Citywide Youth & Teen Program dedicated to increasing civic engagement and leadership opportunities for Men of Color, particularly Black and Latino. The program provides support and mentoring to help men of color navigate systems, develop community partnerships and strengthen their sense of power. Ultimately, B.U.I.L.D.’s mission is to develop leaders who can affect real change in our community.

For the past two years, this Seattle Parks and Recreation-supported program has helped organize community events and host workshops with local schools, nonprofits and businesses. B.U.I.L.D. also offers a young men’s group at two of our Teen Life Centers.


BUILD group photo at BOOM

B.U.I.L.D. hosted an interactive workshop for young men of color at the Boom Experience, an all-day event designed for male students who identify as African, Black, Latino, Native American or a mix of any, who are in grades 7-12 in the Bellevue School District. The Boom Experience provided an opportunity for students to connect, be inspired and find support, and to be led and taught by men who racially identify like them. Students spent the day learning and engaging in discussions around race, culture, leadership and self-empowerment. B.U.I.L.D. members shared resources and stories with the young men about their personal experiences working and participating in the Parks and Recreation profession, and also highlighted Seattle Parks and Recreation offerings that focus on supporting youth of color, including our Teen Summer Musical program, our Teen Life Centers, and our Youth Engaged in Service Learning program.

BUILD the HOOD Softball Event

BUILD Softball event winnersB.U.I.L.D. hosted a resource fair and softball game at South Park Playfield. More than 150 community members attended the event, including a large number of Black men and their families, as well as many Latino families. The resource fair provided voter registration information, on-site free HIV testing, information on City of Seattle employment opportunities, and more. Following the resource fair, B.U.I.L.D. organized a fun and friendly softball game with four teams consisting mostly of “Opportunity Youth”—defined as young people ages 16-24 who are not engaged in work or school.

BUILD the HOOD Community EventBUILD the HOOD 8.9.15 South vr WestB.U.I.L.D. hosted a large-scale community event at Rainier Playfield in Southeast Seattle for at-risk youth, adults and their families from South, West and Central Seattle. More than 500 community members enjoyed the event, which included a barbecue, basketball game, resource fair, and kid-friendly activities, including face painting and arts-and-crafts. Leading up to the event, B.U.I.L.D. members conducted street outreach with active gang members to encourage them to attend and help plan the event. In doing so, B.U.I.L.D. helped put those young men into a positive leadership role within their community, empowering them to step away from negative choices and towards more positive choices to build their community.

BUILD Documentary Viewing

BUILD viewing 13th panelB.U.I.L.D., along with several community partners, helped host a community viewing of the documentary 13th at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute. More than 150 community members attended and watched the documentary, which looks at the impact mass incarceration has had on communities of color. After the viewing, members from Southwest Teen Life Center’s Young Men’s Group and Black Student Unions helped facilitate a community discussion, which included a panel made up of community members who are working to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline, and/or who have been impacted directly by mass incarceration.

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Seattle Parks and Recreation Presidents’ Day Closures

Many Seattle Parks and Recreation facilities will be closed Monday, Feb. 20, in observance of Presidents’ Day.

These facilities and services are CLOSED:

  • Community centers
  • Environmental learning centers
  • Indoor swimming pools
  • Green Lake Small Craft Center
  • Mount Baker Rowing and Sailing Center

These facilities are OPEN on regular schedules:

  • Boat ramps
  • Interbay, Jackson Park, Jefferson Park and West Seattle golf courses
  • Amy Yee Tennis Center
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Seattle Parks and Recreation invites community to review schematic design of Smith Cove Park

Seattle Parks and Recreation invites the community to participate in the Smith Cove Park project on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Magnolia Community Center, 2550 34th Ave. W. This meeting is an opportunity to learn about the project and provide input on the schematic design for Seattle’s new waterfront park. Smith Cove Park is located just west of Pier 91 at the foot of Magnolia Hill on Elliott Bay at 1451 23rd Ave.

 This project will develop the 4.9-acre easterly waterfront property (east of 23rd Ave. W) and make improvements to the westerly property which is the playfield at Smith Cove Park (west of 23rd Ave. W). The expanded park will provide opportunities for active and passive recreation for all ages and abilities, increase environmental sensitivity, and make the park inviting and usable for more people. Improvements to enhance the playability of the field used for youth sports will also be made to the existing playfield at Smith Cove Park. Thank you to everyone who participated in the first meeting. We encourage you to attend this meeting and see how your input has helped shape the design.

 In early 2016, Seattle Parks and Recreation hired GGN as the design consultant. GGN and Seattle Parks and Recreation will use the outreach and concept completed by the Friends of Smith Cove Park (FoSCP) in 2015 as the starting point for the design of the park. 

 For more information on the park and the project, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/about-us/current-projects/smith-cove-park-development or contact David Graves, Seattle Parks and Recreation, at 684-7048 or david.graves@seattle.gov.


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Get Moving program helps Seattle residents burn more than 3,000,000 calories!

Our Get Moving program, funded by the Seattle Park District, works to increase participation and opportunities for physical activities, prioritizing neighborhoods where health disparities are prevalent.

Get Moving provides grants to programs that provide free, culturally relevant programming to reach historically underserved populations. As part of the 2016 grant cycle, 14 programs received funding to provide both exercise opportunities and a connection to a cultural practice at locations across Seattle.

Before the start of the program, 21% of surveyed Get Moving participants reported low or no physical exercise. After joining, 75% of participants reported they would continue to exercise after the Get Moving program.

Get Moving awardees have:

  • Provided more than 600 hours of scheduled programming.
  • Had more than 3,500 people attended a class or activity.
  • Helped Seattle residents burn more than 3,000,000 calories (more than 850 pounds!).

Father and Sons Together


Father and Sons Together (FAST) is a Get Moving grantee whose participants are largely people of color (88% Black; 6% Asian; 3% Hispanic). FAST provides positive and safe activities for Fathers/Sons in Southeast Seattle. This program seeks to help strengthen the Father/Son relationship, replace hopelessness with hope and inspire leadership through recreation activities. FAST has served more than 300 people and has hosted several community events, including a Fishing Day of Play, Empowerment Baseball Camp, Walk for Change & Family Day of Play, Overnight Camp at Camp Long, and Empowerment Basketball Camp.

“Some of the challenge courses, wall climb, and the rock climbing challenges were difficult but I didn’t give up. I kept going because of the encouragement my father along with all of the other fathers/sons were giving me. I learned that I am never alone.” Donald, a youth participant.

Lao Women Association of Washington


The Lao Women Association of Washington has held eight Get Moving-funded classes, teaching a variety of dance styles to community members including traditional Lao dance, Zumba and Cha Cha. The Association helps participants increase physical activity and mental well-being. Lao dance helps to boost mood and energy, reduce stress and increases self-image and confidence. Several participants reported weight loss attributed to this Get Moving-supported program, and 100% of program participants reported that they were “very satisfied” with the program.

Young Women Empowered


Through the Get Moving program, Young Women Empowered served a small but diverse group of people (44% Black; 12% African; 16% Hispanic; 8% Filipino; 8% Multiethnic). This group provided dance classes to more than 50 girls and women ages 12 to 50+. Young Women Empowered hosted eight dance classes, enabling participants to move creatively and joyfully. The program also helped to ignite participants’ passion for dance while exploring the rich cultures of the African Diaspora. Participants reported the lowest levels of pre-program exercise out of all the Get Moving grantees. Only 23% of participants reported exercising once a week or less before the beginning of the program.


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Seattle Parks and Recreation to host free soccer clinics with Seattle Sounders FC’s RAVE Foundation

21518856229_a849c4944c_zSeattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) will host two free soccer clinics at Yesler Community Center with the Seattle Sounders FC’s RAVE Foundation. Youth ages 8 to 14 are encouraged to come out and enjoy the free futsal clinics on Friday, January 27 or Friday, February 24. Both clinics will be held at Yesler Community Center (917 E Yesler Way) from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Futsal is a variation of soccer played on a hard court smaller than a traditional outdoor soccer field.

Group sessions will be divided by age, 8 to 11 and 12 to 14. We are looking for 40 participants in each age group session. Please stop by or call the Yesler Community Center at 206-386-1245 to register.


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Seattle Parks and Recreation continues work on Burke-Gilman Trail in northeast Seattle

Jan. 23, 2017 UPDATE: Seattle Parks and Recreation continues to clear debrisburke work

Seattle Parks and Recreation(SPR) will continue work to clean up debris and provide ditch maintenance at two landslide sites along sections of the Burke-Gilman Trail between NE 125th St. and NE 135th St. in northeast Seattle.  The heavy rain has filled the ditches and requires attention.

To accommodate commuters, SPR will start work after the morning commute and end work prior to the evening commute. Crews will be on-site from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily starting Tuesday, Jan. 24 until work is complete. We anticipate the project will be complete on Thursday afternoon.

Trail users will experience a reduced pedestrian lane.  For safety, cyclists will be required to dismount and walk their bicycles past the work area. SPR will provide flaggers at the project site.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and patience during this maintenance project.

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