Take center stage: Make Music Seattle is happening June 21

MMSGenericLogo2OL.fwThey say all the world’s a stage, and this Sunday that statement rings true. On June 21, for the first time, Seattle will be joining more than 700 cities in a worldwide music celebration called Make Music.

Make Music is a free festival held each year on the summer solstice across the globe where musicians young and old, amateur and professional, of every genre pour into streets, parks and plazas to share their talent with the community. All of the events are free and open to the public. [Read more…]

Seattle Tilth offers free composting and container gardening classes in downtown parks

Seattle Tilth composting class in Victor Steinbrueck Park.

Seattle Tilth composting class in Victor Steinbrueck Park.

This summer, Seattle Tilth will teach apartment and condominium dwellers how to grow salads, herbs and vegetables in containers and how to compost food waste indoors or on balconies or patios in downtown parks. These classes provide new ideas and will help troubleshoot site challenges for new and experienced gardeners. Seattle Tilth garden experts will show innovative ways to grow food organically with limited space and reduce food waste for people who don’t have a yard or garden plot. [Read more…]

Parks’ Late Night program to serve free hot meals to teens

Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Late Night Recreation Program will start offering free hot and healthy meals to participants of the Late Night Program beginning in September 2015. The Late Night program serves teens ages 13-19.

Meals will be provided at the sites listed below:

  • Garfield Teen Life Center, Friday and Saturday 8-9:30 p.m.
  • Rainier Community Center, Friday and Saturday 8-9:30 p.m.
  • Rainier Beach Community Center, Friday and Saturday 8-9:30 p.m.
  • Van Asselt Community Center, Saturday 8-9:30 p.m.
  • High Point Community Center, Friday 8-9:30 p.m.
  • South Park Community Center, Friday 8-9:30 p.m.
  • Southwest Teen Life Center, Friday and Saturday 8-9:30 p.m.

[Read more…]

Come to Family Fun Week at Westlake Park

Seattle Parks and Recreation, Downtown Seattle Association, and the Metropolitan Improvement District invites the community to Family Fun Week at Westlake Park, 401 Pine St., from Aug. 11 to 17.

Join a week of fun family activities and concerts. Pop some bubbles, get your bounce in bouncy castles, and shake and boogie during Noon Tunes. Build community and culture by being a part of the International Youth Peace Festival, and immerse yourself in science with the Pacific Science Center, plus more!

Sunday, Aug. 11

12 noon – 1 p.m.                     Ian Dobson’s Steel Drum Party

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.                       Bubbleman

12 noon – 2 p.m.                      Face Painting with Alethea

3 – 5 p.m.                                 International Youth Peace Festival


Monday, Aug. 12

12 noon – 2 p.m.                     Shadowcube: Postcard Project in the Park

12 noon – 3 p.m.                      Inflatable Day – bouncy houses in the park


Tuesday, Aug. 13

12 noon – 1:30 p.m.                  Noon Tunes: Rolie Pollie Guacamole  


Wednesday, Aug. 14

12 noon – 1 p.m.                       Noon Tunes: Alleyoop (Allan Hirsch)

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.                       UNI(verse) Portable Reading Room  

Thursday, Aug. 15

11 a.m. – 2 p.m.                       Belltown Community Center’s Imagination Playground Day

11 a.m. – 2 p.m.                       Face Painting with Alethea

12 noon – 2 p.m.                       Noon Tunes: Summer Januaries


Friday, Aug. 16

12 noon – 1:30 p.m.                  Noon Tunes: Casper Babypants

12 noon – 2 p.m.                       Fun and Games by Clowns Unlimited


Saturday, Aug. 17

12 noon – 12:30 p.m.                Musicians of Bremen Green Puppet Musical Puppet Show

12 noon – 2 p.m.                       Face Painting with Alethea

12 noon – 3 p.m.                        Pacific Science Center Hands On Activities


For more information, go to www.seattle.gov\parks\downtown. Family Fun Week is sponsored by Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Sounders Football Club.

Free Outdoor Star Trek play features “Devil in the Dark”

Hello Earth Productions will perform a free play, “Devil in the Dark,” at the Dr. Blanche Lavizzo Park amphitheater on Saturday, Aug. 3 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 4 at 2 p.m.

Dr. Blanche Lavizzo Park is located at 2100 S. Jackson St. (The amphitheater is at north end of park near Yesler and 22nd Avenue S)

The “Devil in the Dark” episode was originally written by Gene L. Coon and aired in 1967 for the original Star Trek series. Director Joy E. DeLyria brings to life the Federation starship USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk. The Enterprise is sent to the pergium mining colony on planet Janus VI to investigate reports of a strange creature that recently killed 50 miners with a strong corrosive substance and is destroying equipment.

The curiosity of Kirk’s First Officer, Science Officer Spock, is aroused by a spherical object on the desk of the mine supervisor, Chief Engineer Vanderberg, who explains that it is one of thousands of silicon nodules found in the mine, but is of no commercial value. Soon, another guard is killed, and a circulation pump, vital to the colony’s main reactor, is stolen. Join Hello Earth Productions to see the exciting conclusion of “Devil in the Dark.”

Bring your family, sun loving pets, and friends (alien buddies included.) Cushions for comfort are recommended. Although free of charge, the company happily accepts donations during performances.

For more information on “Devil in the Dark”,” visit: www.helloearthproductions.com. Catch them on Twitter at @hello_earth.

Seattle Parks and Recreation celebrates Youth Appreciation Week

Each year, Seattle Parks and Recreation celebrates teens with Youth Appreciation Week by providing special programming during Seattle Public Schools’ spring break week. Programming includes regularly scheduled activities, special events, field trips, and activities designed to celebrate this special week for teens.

The week kicks off with a Youth Appreciation Week Block Party at Southwest Teen Life Center, 2801 SW Thistle St., from 6 – 10 p.m., on Saturday, April 13. Events include a job fair from 6  – 8 p.m., followed by skating, swimming, video games, live DJ’s, food, tee-shirts and more. Youth aged 12 – 19 are invited to come. Parents are welcome too. For more information, call the Teen Life Center at (206) 684-7438 or (206) 684-4115.

Saturday, April 13

Green Lake Small Craft Center, 5900 W Green Lake Way N, will host an Open House from 10 a.m. – 12 noon for teens to meet crew coaches, take a lesson, and enjoy hot dogs and veggie dogs fresh off the grill. For more information call the Green Lake Small Crafter Center at (206) 684-4074. 

Monday, April 15 – Friday, April 19

Yesler Community Center, 917 E Yesler Way, in Partnership with Nature Consortium will host an opportunity to create an environmental art project daily from 1- 3 p.m. For more information call Yesler Community Center at (206) 386-1245.

Tuesday, April 16

South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Ave. S, will host a free barbeque from 1 – 4 p.m. in partnership with Garfield Community Center. For more information, call South Park Community Center at (206)684-7451.

Queen Anne Pool, 1920 1st Ave. W, will host a public swim from 2 – 3 p.m. The cost for teens is $3.75. For more information, call Queen Anne Pool at (206) 386-4282.

Evans Pool, E Green Lake Dr. N, will offer a free public swim from 7 – 8 p.m. For more information, call Evans Pool at (206) 684-4961.

Northgate Community Center will take teens to see the premier of the movie “Oblivion” at Regal Meridian Cinemas, 7 p.m. The first 20 youth to sign up get in free. For more information, call Northgate Community Center at (206) 386-4283.

Wednesday, April 17

Northgate Community Center will host Full Court Teen Volleyball Skills Challenge and open gym at 3:30 p.m. There will be prizes, and the event is free. For more information, call Northgate Community Center at (206) 386-4283.

Thursday, April 18

Northgate Community Center teens and Niketown will decorate the teen room at the community center with the Teen Advisory Council at 6 p.m. Come check out their new décor. For more information, call Northgate Community Center at (206) 386-4283.

Queen Anne Pool, 1920 1st Ave. W, will host a public swim from 2 – 3 p.m. The cost for teens is $3.75. For more information, call Queen Anne Pool at (206) 386-4282.

Medgar Evers Pool, 500 23rd Ave., will offer a free public swim from 1 – 2:30 p.m. For more information, call Medgar Evers Pool at (206) 684-4766.

Friday, April 19

Miller and Yesler community centers will take teens to the Family Fun Center as an appreciation event and kick-off to Spring Break. The event will take place from 4 – 7 p.m. For more information call Yesler Community Center at (206) 386-1245.

Queen Anne Pool, 1920 1st Ave. W, will host a public swim from 2 – 3 p.m. The cost for teens is $3.75. For more information, call Queen Anne Pool at (206) 386-4282.

Saturday April 20

Yesler Community Center and the Nature Consortium will host a community clean-up from 1 – 2 p.m. For more information call Yesler Community Center at (206) 386-1245.

Parks works in partnership with the Associated Recreation Council (ARC) to bring high-quality, accessible and affordable recreation opportunities to the people of Seattle. For more information on ARC, please see http://www.arcseattle.org/.

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Local magazines rank Seattle’s “best of” parks

If you’re a parent, chances are you’re in a continual search to find interesting, active, stimulating stuff to do with your kids. No doubt, parks play a big role in that. And you probably have your go-to parks – the ones where you can always count on a good time. 

But wouldn’t it be nice to know what other parks parents are choosing? Thanks to some 2012 “Best Of” lists, we can help you discover new parks for your family that are sure to become old favorites.

The following list was compiled from Seattle Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards, RedTricycle’s Most Awesome Awards and ParentMap Magazine’s Golden Teddy Awards.

(Note: Seattle Magazine simply lists its readers’ top park choices for kids, while RedTricycle and ParentMap specify a category. If you see a category listed next to the park, it was listed in either RedTricycle or ParentMap. Parks with no categories listed, were only featured in Seattle Magazine.)

Alki Beach Park: Whether you’re visiting in February or August, there’s always something interesting to see and do at Alki. This long beach is great for walking, taking in the views, building sandcastles or beach combing. Make a day of it by hopping the water taxi from downtown Seattle, grabbing lunch at the new Marination ma kai (of Marination mobile food truck fame) at Seacrest Park, and catching a free ride on the water taxi shuttle.

Kids on swings at Cal Anderson Park

Cal Anderson Park features swings for babies and for bigger kids.

Cal Anderson Park: Cal Anderson Park opened in 2005 in the densely populated neighborhood of Capitol Hill. It’s built on top of a former open-air reservoir, which has since been buried. The playground features swings – both the baby and the kid kind, slides and climbing structures. There’s plenty of open space for tossing a ball or just running around. It’s a great place for your kid to practice his balance bike skills – lots of pathways. In the summer, the wading pool opens. Take a bus, walk, ride your bike or prepare to pay for parking. The bathrooms are located in the shelterhouse between the park and Bobby Morris Playfield.

Carkeek Park (Best Nature Outing and Best Playground Park): Located on the shores of Puget Sound, Carkeek Park’s 220 acres are great for hiking, salmon viewing during spawning season in late fall and early winter, picnicking or playing at the playground, which features a unique salmon slide. Little known fact: there’s an historical apple orchard in the park that is maintained by volunteers. To get to the playground, you must drive all the way into the park. It overlooks the Sound, near the train tracks. The bathrooms are near the playground.

Cowen Park(and Cowen Park zipline at the playground): With the beautifully restored Ravenna Creek running the length of the park, alongside an easy walking trail, Cowen Park is one of those places where it can be easy to forget you’re right in the middle of the city. The playground with the zipline is located near the corner of NE Ravenna Boulevard and Brooklyn Avenue NE. There are bathrooms near the playground.

The zipline at Cowen Park playground

The zipline at Cowen Park Playground made the list as a top outing for kids and parents.
PHOTO CREDIT: Patrick Niemeyer

Discovery Park (Best Nature Outing and Prettiest Park and Playground): This former military base is truly one of the gems of the city. It has miles and miles hiking trails, beaches, open lawns for flying kites, vistas, a giant sand dune for digging, ponds for frog watching, an Environmental Learning Center with a playroom, and much more. To get to the playground, enter the park from W Government Way, park at the Environmental Learning Center (where the bathrooms are) and walk on the path directly to the south of the center, past the sports courts. This playground has a great zipline too. Finding parking is usually not a problem; although, it can get rather crowded on beautiful weekend days.

Ella Bailey Park: This park is one of our newer playgrounds. It opened in 2007, and has one of the best views of Seattle. It features gently rolling slopes, play equipment, picnic tables, barbeques and walking pathways. This park has no public restrooms, and parking is on street.

Golden Gardens Park playground: Pirate-themed play equipment is a kid magnet in this newly renovated playground. Located conveniently off the parking lot and in front of the bathhouse (where the bathrooms are), this new playground features lots of opportunities for little climbers. And if they get bored at the playground, the beach and creek are nearby. This park is always a hit with kids.

Green Lake Park: Arguably the most visited park in the city, Green Lake Park is popular with kids of every age. The playground is amply sized, and has both baby swings and big kid swings. It is located near the community center (where the bathrooms are). Parking is always tough. If you can do it, we recommend walking, biking or taking the bus.

Green Lake Park wading pool and swimming beaches(Best Water Play): In the summertime, it’s a great fun to take your kids out to the waters at Green Lake. For little kids, the wading pool is a great introduction to swimming. For big and little kids, the beaches are fantastic. The water is clear and warm (okay, well warmer than the Puget Sound or Lake Washington). There are two beaches – one near the community center on the east and one near the Bathhouse Theater on the west side of the lake. Both have bathrooms and parking lots. Parking is a bit of a bear in the summer. If you can swing it, walk, bike or ride the bus.

Two girls on merry-go-round

The International Children’s Park has a mini-sized merry-go-round.

International Children’s Park: What a treasure this little park is. It’s newly renovated – dedicated just last year, and located in the heart of the International District/Chinatown. It has brand new play equipment for climbing and sliding, a merry-go-round and dragon art/climbing structure. Parking can be a challenge in International District/Chinatown. Make a day of it, and stop in to one of the neighborhood’s many delicious dim sum places – are perfect for little appetites.

Jefferson Park’s Beacon Mountain: Another amazing new park in Seattle, the renovated Jefferson Park and Beacon Mountain are truly one-of-a-kind. With two zip lines, slides that go down hills and a play water feature, this park attracts lots of families. There are paths for scooters, balance bikes or regular, big-kid bikes. The park features interesting, geometric climbing structures. There are bathrooms nearby at the community center, and there is parking. Parking can be tight on a beautiful day, but there’s usually a spot to be had. If you don’t want to deal with parking, the park is well served by buses.

Lake Union Park sailing pond: This one is not free, but it’s good, cheap fun. Every Sunday, for a suggested donation of $5 an hour, you can be the captain of your own pond boat. The Center For Wooden Boats runs the program, and it’s one of our favorites. Now, you have the added bonus of visiting the newly opened MOHAI at Lake Union Park. Kids under 14 get in to the museum for free. MOHAI restrooms are free for park visitors. There is a small pay parking lot. But why not ride the South Lake Union Street Car over there? It stops right in front of the park.

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Belltown Community Center offers My First Movie — FREE

Belltown Community Center, Seattle Parks and Recreation’s newest community center, will offer My First Movie on Saturday, January 26, from 10 – 11:30 a.m. Belltown Community Center is located at 415 Bell Street, at the corner of 5th Avenue and Bell Street.

The free showing of “Winnie the Pooh” will take place in a movie-like setting and is the perfect opportunity to introduce young children to their first movie-going experience – without the expense or worrying who they might disrupt while asking questions during the show. The movie will be shown in a darkened room and projected onto a 70-inch screen. There will popcorn and other concessions available.

The 2011 version of this “Winnie the Pooh” movie is appropriate for children around 3 years old and older, according to Common Sense Media.

Come early and visit the center’s Tot Town Playroom, which is best for children ages 18 months to 4 years old. The playroom is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 3 – 8 p.m.

The Imagination Playground will also be open, and is best for children ages 3 to 7. Regular hours for the Imagination Playground are Wednesdays 3:30 – 5:30 p.m., Fridays from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. and Saturdays 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Each playroom is $2 per child.

For more information, contact Belltown Community Center at 206-684-4093, visit their webpage or like them on Facebook.

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Getting new sprayparks ready for splish-splashy summer fun

You may not be thinking about frolicking in a spray of cool, refreshing water right now, but at Seattle Parks and Recreation we’re always one step ahead. We’re getting our parks ready for you, so when that hot spell hits this summer, you’ll have a great place to go. That’s how we roll.

The new spray feature at Beacon Mountain was a big hit last summer.

The new spray feature at Beacon Mountain was a big hit last summer.

Sprayparks create smiles and summer fun from the moment the water turns on Memorial Day weekend until they close on Labor Day weekend. Seattle Parks built and opened three new re-circulating sprayparks in 2012, and will open a fourth at Highland Park in 2013.

The new re-circulating sprayparks are environmentally friendly, using significantly less water — 84,000 gallons annually compared to 624,000 gallons used by wading pools. They are interactive and appeal to a wider age range of park visitors from toddlers to adults. Spray feature parks provide longer operating hours and a longer season than traditional wading pools. They also cost less to operate since fewer staff are necessary. And, unlike our wading pools, sprayparks are open every day – no matter the weather.

The 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy funded new sprayparks at Georgetown, Northacres, Beacon Mountain and Highland parks. These four new re-circulating sprayparks bring our total inventory of spray features parks to 10.

Sprayparks’ mechanical systems operate similarly to swimming pools, but they are user activated and unmonitored. The water is continually filtered, chemically balanced and re-circulated to meet public health standards.

With so many new sprayparks in our inventory, we’re still learning the best way to keep them operational when challenged with high levels of use. Last season when the chemical balance varied from the standards, the systems shut off until the water automatically rebalanced. The rebalance process generally takes between 10 and 20 minutes.

Sprayparks appeal to a range of park visitors -- from little kids to grownups.

Sprayparks appeal to a range of park visitors — from little kids to grownups.

That led to some pretty unhappy park-goers. We’re working to reduce those shutoffs. Parks’ aquatics staff who maintain the sprayparks are adapting the operating procedures to limit the shutdowns. We are also asking spraypark visitors to help out by wearing swim attire, and keeping street clothes, shoes and dogs off the splashpad.

Since the opening of wading pools is weather dependent, we operate a Wading Pool Hotline in the summer, so you can see if wading pool will be open on any particular day. That number is 206-684-7796. Seattle Parks and Recreation wading pools operate from early June until late August, and only on days when the temperature is above 70 degrees.

To find the location of parks with spray features visit http://seattle.gov/parks/wadingpools.asp

Our new sprayparks have been an instant success. We look forward to providing you with a fun, safe, water-filled, splish-splashy 2013 summer.

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Take the plunge! Start 2013 off right with a bracing swim in Lake Washington at the Polar Bear Plunge!

Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Meadowbrook Community Center Advisory Council are co-sponsoring the 11th Annual Polar Bear Swim at high noon on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013 at Matthews Beach, 9300 51st Ave. NE. Registration starts at 11 a.m. and the Plunge starts at noon sharp.

There will be refreshments and a 2013 Official Patch of Courage for all heroic polar bears who immerse themselves neck-deep in the lake, to prove to friends and loved ones they actually braved the frigid waters, which today were a bracing 48 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make the plunge even more special by dressing up in a costume! Sign our memory book at www.theofficialunofficialpolarbearplunge.blogspot.com, and share your experience at the event on your Facebook page, blog, YouTube or Twitter accounts.

Once again, we’ll feature the new Polar Cub Club, a special time just before the big polar bears plunge, for younger folks or people who need a little bit more room. Some people actually choose to double dip.

Parks offers a few tips for enjoying a fun, safe swim:
• Come early, and carpool or take the bus.
• You can plan your trip at http://tripplanner.kingcounty.gov/
• If you have heart problems or other serious medical concerns, we recommend you consult your health care professional before taking the Polar Bear Plunge. If you don’t go in the water, come and watch!
• Don’t drink alcohol – it doesn’t warm you up, and it accelerates hypothermia.
• Don’t stay in the water for longer than 15 minutes – you lose body heat 25 times faster in water than in air.
• Don’t take off your outer clothing until you’re ready to get in the water, and remove wet clothing before getting into dry clothes.

The Polar Bear Plunge was the first official event of its kind in the Seattle area. Janet Wilson, the Aquatic Center Coordinator at Meadowbrook Pool, started the event on January 1, 2003. About 300 people participated in that first Polar Bear Plunge, and since then the attendance has soared to more than 1,500 brave bears of every age. The plunge has inspired other, similar events in the Seattle area.

Witnesses to history will, at each participant’s request, record the names of the bold souls who complete the mission by signing our online blog. www.theofficialunofficialpolarbearplunge.blogspot.com