To commemorate the establishment of Seward Park in 1911, neighbors and community organizations are holding a historical festival on July 16 -17 to acknowledge 100 years of history and celebrate all that the park now offers.
Highlights for Saturday include a costumed Promenade around the perimeter of the park, Classic Car Parade and Show, historic hydroplanes on display, a vintage fashion show, food vendors and live music – all of which have a place in the park’s history. Spectators may especially appreciate the appearance of a 1911 Baker electric car.
In remembrance of the wildly popular annual Rainier District Pow Wow that ran from 1934-1991, the family of the late legislator John L. O’Brien (“Mr. Pow Wow”), will sponsor a pie-eating contest and other old-fashioned games in his honor. Locally renowned comedian John Keister will emcee the contests and games, and one of the judges will be Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess.
A ceramic art show will run throughout Saturday and Sunday at the Seward Park Clay Studio. A neighborhood garden and history tour takes place Sunday only from 1-4pm ($10 in advance, or $15 day of tour). All events other than the garden and history tour are free.
Background and Additional Details
In 1911, the City of Seattle bought the 277-acre Bailey Peninsula on the western shore of Lake Washington. When first suggested – almost 20 years previous – some felt that the site was too far from town. Optimists, however, correctly anticipated Seattle’s growth.
Due to this forethought and lucky happenstance that left the peninsula unlogged, Seward Park is now one of the city’s favorite parks, boasting some of the oldest and largest trees in the city. It stands as a vital part of south Seattle’s past and present, as well as being an ecological hotspot.
On clear summer days, hundreds of visitors can be found enjoying the park’s paved lakeshore walking loop, swimming area, eco-friendly playground and Audubon education center, and several scenic picnic areas. Birdwatchers appreciate opportunities to gaze at two resident eagle pairs or great blue herons fishing. The park also boasts an amazing view of Mt. Rainier rising over Lake Washington.
The festival on July 16 -17 will feature additional draws honoring the park’s 20th century cultural history. A two-mile “Promenade around the Peninsula” will commence at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Participants are encouraged to dress in period wear from 1911 to present. Organizers hope to see a range of costumes represented – everything from 1920s flapper dresses, to dapper 1940s suits, to Japanese-American summer yukatas, to 1990s teen grunge-wear is welcome. Commemorative tee-shirts and posters will be available for purchase. Promenade pre-registration at sewardparkcentennial.org is encouraged but not required.
Walkers will be followed by a parade of classic cars returning to the lakeshore loop after a 40-year hiatus. (The loop was closed to car traffic in the 1970s.) After this one-time only circuit, the cars will be on display through Saturday afternoon at the parking area at the top of the park. Although driving on the loop, drag races, and power boats races in Seward Park’s Andrews Bay are now only a memory, historic hydroplanes from the nation’s only hydroplane museum will also be on display on Saturday to recall these old pastimes, including 951 Slo Mo Shun, 1968 Miss Budweiser, and 1975 Oh Boy! Oberto.
The mainstage will feature live performances between 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., including music by Karin Blaine (folk/indie), Four on Six (jazz), The Garage Band (classic rock), and Latigo Lace (Top 40 Country/Rock), and a vintage fashion show at noon. At 12:30 p.m., 40 lucky participants picked by raffle will have the opportunity to participate in a classic mid-century style pie-eating contest, with comedian John Keister as emcee.
On Sunday July 17, Friends of Seward Park presents a Garden and History Tour from 1 – 4 p.m. This self-guided tour begins at Seward Park, and includes private and public gardens and sites of historic interest in Hillman and Columbia City. Tickets are $10 in advance (at www.sewardparkcentennial.org) or $15 on the day of the Tour, with proceeds helping to support Seward Park Centennial events.
The Seward Park Centennial Committee is an ad hoc group of neighborhood residents and non-profit organizations, including Friends of Seward Park, Seward Park Environmental & Audubon Center, Lakewood-Seward Park Community Club, Seward Park Clay Studio, and Rainier Valley Historical Society. For tickets and information about Centennial events, please visit www.sewardparkcentennial.org.
Centennial Festival Contacts:
Karen O’Brien (206-999-1781) or Gail Gatton (206-652-2444 x101 or 206-949-5902)
Address: Seward Park, 5902 Lake Washington Boulevard, Seattle, WA 98118
Additional information sources:
Seattle Parks and Recreation on Seward Park: http://www.seattle.gov/Parks/environment/seward.htm
Friends of Seward Park: http://www.sewardpark.org/
Seward Park Environmental & Audubon Center: http://sewardpark.audubon.org/
Rainier District Pow Wow history: http://historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=9526
Seward Park History by Parks historian Donald N. Sherwood: http://www.seattle.gov/Parks/history/SewardPk.pdf
Historical photos available upon request.
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