Seattle Parks says 2016 Cal Anderson Independence Day Picnic a go

The route to saving Capitol Hill’s Independence Day picnic wasn’t pretty but it was apparently successful. Seattle Parks has announced that the 14th edition of the free community event will go on.

July 4th in Cal Anderson from noon to 4 PM, Parks and Rec has rallied to pull together free hot dogs for the first 500 people, a David Bowie Look-A-Like Contest, drag performance by Ms. Ryannah Doll, a Space Oddity Kids Costume Parade (“come dressed in your best outer space look”), face painting for kids, “and more!” Continue reading

Trans* Pride 2016 dances through the rain on Capitol Hill

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An incredible downpour didn’t stop Trans* Pride — but it definitely made more than a few people including Gender Justice League organizer Danni Askini consider calling it a night to head somewhere warm and dry. Instead, they danced:

Again in 2016, a few thousand members of the LGBTQ communities and their allies joined the Trans* Pride March, ending at Cal Anderson Park. This year, the event came under the shadow of violence both far — and right here on Capitol Hill. As volunteers scrambled to set up the Trans* Pride rally grounds in Cal Anderson, Askini answered questions and stood by beating victim Michael Volz who described a horrible assault Wednesday night by an anti-trans attacker. “Part of our efforts to do things like Trans Pride Seattle is to create community and solidarity so that people do not feel isolated,” Askini said at the media conference.

During the rally, District 3 representative Kshama Sawant recalled the start of Trans* Pride in Seattle. “I remember only 2013 I was a candidate for City Council running as a socialist. Everybody thought that was crazy,” Sawant said. “People also thought it was crazy that was there was the first year we had our first Trans* Pride march and rally. And there was not a single politician here.”

“This year we forced the Seattle City Council — the entire Council — to declare today officially as Trans* Pride Day.”

Friday night, marchers came to support each other, to be visible, and because some say Sunday’s official Seattle Pride parade is overcrowded, commercial, and exploitative. Continue reading

Installation of new cork-filled surface for Cal Anderson’s Bobby Morris field to begin



It’s your last weekend to enjoy the turf at Cal Anderson’s Bobby Morris field until later this summer — the fences will go up next Wednesday for the construction project to replace the playfield’s crumb rubber surface with a new experimental cork alternative. Here’s the announcement from Seattle Parks:

Seattle Parks and Recreation awarded the construction contract to replace the aging synthetic turf at Bobby Morris Playfield to FieldTurf USA. FieldTurf USA began preliminary work on June 10, and they will install construction fencing on June 22.  FieldTurf USA will be occupying parking spots on the west side of 11th Ave. adjacent to Cal Anderson Park to stage equipment. The project will be completed in early August 2016. The project includes new infill and testing, any structural repairs to curbing or base required, and new soccer goals and nets.

This pilot project will test the durability, safety, playability, maintainability and environmental health of a new synthetic turf infill material. Seattle Parks and Recreation has been looking for an alternate infill material for over three years. The industry is working to offer alternatives such as coconut fiber, minerals (light stone – zeolite), cork and Thermal Plastic Elastomer (TPE – a food grade inert plastic). Cork met Seattle Parks and Recreation’s playability, durability and safety criteria and has a reasonable cost. This pilot project will test the capabilities we believe cork has.

CHS reported on the $1 million, six to seven-week project in May. Crumb rubber fields have come under increasing scrutiny over health concerns that the recycled tires used as infill could be contaminating the fields. “We hope that it’s just as playable and durable and meets safety requirements,” project manager Jay Rood told CHS last month about the alternative being tried for the first time in Seattle. If the new cork and sand fill works out, Rood said the pilot program will be extended to artificial turf fields across the city.

Pride events that utilize the park will adjust accordingly this year. On the 24th, Trans* Pride will utilize the park’s grassy bowl before heading out to march while Capitol Hill Pride with Family Pride and Queer Youth Pride on the 25th will stretch out of Cal Anderson onto the E Denny “festival” street by Capitol Hill Station.

You can learn more at

On the List | HONK! Fest West brass band festival comes to Capitol Hill

Brass musicians march at a past HONK! Fest 4th of July show (Images: Mike Antares)

Brass musicians march at a past HONK! Fest 4th of July show (Images: Mike Antares)

HONK! Fest West is extending its reach to Capitol Hill.

The free outdoor music festival started in Seattle in 2008, and this year it runs from June 16 to 19 with a visit to Capitol Hill in the middle. Capitol Hill will have its day Friday with professional brass bands playing free live concerts at four locations on the Hill. Festival organizer Mike Antares estimates that about 26 bands will play on the Hill.

“HONK! Fest is about the accessibility of music, which is why they’re in parks, streets, and public spaces,” Antares said.

This is the first year that the festival has included Capitol Hill. Festival organizers were brainstorming earlier in the year about how to reach out to other communities in the Seattle area. “Capitol Hill was at the top of the list,” said Antares. Continue reading

Demolitions make way for Capitol Hill future, reveal Capitol Hill past

Revealed Remnant of Capitol Hill's Past

Early June became demolition season on Capitol Hill this week as three old buildings came down, raising clouds of musty dust and nostalgia in mostly equal measure. For the two most Capitol Hill memory-filled structures, we had some warning as the wrecking crews came for the old Broadway post office and the longtime 11th Ave home of Hugo House. Fewer knew about the impending doom that awaited the Emerald City Manor apartments on Boylston. But we’re guessing there might be some nostalgia floating in the dust over there, too. Continue reading

Seattle Parks not giving up hope on Cal Anderson Independence Day Picnic — UPDATE

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Seattle’s Parks and Rec isn’t giving up. But trying to pull together the 14th annual Cal Anderson Independence Day Picnic might be a losing battle.

Following an extremely sparsely attended community meeting earlier this week to rally support — and find an organizer — for this year’s picnic, the department says it hasn’t given up hope that someone will step forward and claim the $1,500 budget for supporting the community event. But candidates to pull the event together aren’t exactly lining up. A past organizer of the picnic, one of the few people who showed up at Tuesday’s meeting interested in possibly getting involved, has decided not to take on the project, Seattle Parks says.

The scramble follows the exit of longtime picnic organizer the Cal Anderson Park Alliance from the event. No formal statement has come from the advocacy group about its decision not to be responsible for organizing this year’s picnic. Recent budgets for the free picnic that has featured live music and free food and ice cream have come in around $15,000 CHS has been told. Groups including the Capitol Hill Community Council and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce have so far declined to be responsible for the event. The feedback: Nobody has time.

The $1,500 or so Seattle Parks can put up for the 2016 event would mean an extremely pared down event — if City Hall can find somebody to pull the party together. Watch for an announcement on the status of the picnic plan soon, a parks rep tells CHS.

UPDATE 6/10/2016: We’ve asked the Cal Anderson Park Alliance for more about the situation behind the scenes and the group has been working together to come up with a reply. Friday, CAPA sent out the lengthy statement below. Here’s the core. “It was a difficult but strategic decision for us to not produce the picnic,” the CAPA statement reads. “We know the community loves the event, as do we. We are deeply concerned about the condition of the Park, and we believe that any funding or staffing resources available through Seattle Parks & Recreation should be directed towards park maintenance and safety efforts and not a one-time 4-5 hour event.” Also — good news :) — CAPA will again be working with CHS on Capitol Hill Garage Sale Day in August. Watch for more on that soon.

The full statement is below.

A response from the Cal Anderson Park Alliance (CAPA) to the recent press releases and subsequent media stories about the July 4th Independence Day Picnic that we have historically produced in Cal Anderson Park.

We are concerned that these media stories do not accurately depict events that have taken place leading to our decision not to produce the picnic this year.

The Cal Anderson Park Alliance (CAPA) is a very small, yet dedicated group of community volunteers who work to activate Cal Anderson Park and advocate for the health and safety of the park. Over the years we have produced many events, including the July 4th Independence Day picnic for over a decade. We have also taken on the Capitol Hill Community Garage Sale and are responsible for the ping pong table that was in the park last summer. Of all the events we have produced, the July 4th picnic is the largest and requires the most time, effort and funding. Typically the picnic costs somewhere between $7500 -$15,000 and involves countless hours of volunteer effort and many in-kind donations from local small businesses.

At the end of 2015, as we assessed the growing needs of the park and concerns from the community about park safety and maintenance, we decided not to produce the July 4th picnic and rather to focus our limited bandwidth on advocacy for the park. To give ample time for the community to find an alternative coordinating group, in January of 2016 we notified Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR), the Capitol Hill Chamber, Capitol Hill Housing, and the Capitol Hill Community Council. None of these organizations were able to dedicate the resources to produce and plan this event either, but understood our decision.

We were quite surprised Friday, June 3 to receive a forwarded press release about the July 4th Picnic. No member of CAPA was given any notice this release was going out. At no time in the last six months were we told that SPR was willing to dedicate any staff time or funding for this event.

If SPR had been willing this past winter to help with the planning efforts or provide any funding, we might have reconsidered our decision and might have felt more able to balance planning a July 4th picnic with the need to focus on advocacy. Other community partners might also have felt more able to take over planning when we alerted them of our decision and invited them to consider producing the picnic No support was offered to us or to any other organizations (to our knowledge) to help plan the picnic. In fact, we do not receive any ongoing funding from SPR. To fund our efforts in the past, we have written successful grants to the Department of Neighborhoods and have raised money through sponsorship and collaboration with other neighborhood organizations (including benefiting from past Only in Seattle grant funding) as well as generous in-kind donations from local businesses to accomplish our work. We have always had to raise and secure our own funding to produce the picnic and any other CAPA-produced events in the park.

Over the past few months, during the period in which we would typically be spending many hours planning and fundraising for the four to five hour-long July 4th event, we have instead been able to focus on community concerns in the park such as the water issues in the reflecting pool, graffiti and ongoing park maintenance, which continues to be an issue. Also we have been working with community partners to advocate for the continuation of the “Summer of Safety” program which would include funding for park concierges this summer. Staffing and maintenance of the park are serious concerns as Cal Anderson Park is highly utilized by the community and continues to have disparities in investment compared to other high-use city parks like Westlake and Occidental. We are also working with neighborhood organizations (Capitol Hill Housing, Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, Capitol Hill Champion, Capitol Hill Community Council) on next steps needed to gather support and funds to move forward with implementation of recommendations from the City-funded Cal Anderson Park Lighting Master Plan (completed December 2015) to help make Cal Anderson Park more enjoyable and safe year-round. Finally, we have recently opened a dialogue with the new Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation, Jesús Aguirre.

It was a difficult but strategic decision for us to not produce the picnic. We know the community loves the event, as do we. We are deeply concerned about the condition of the Park, and we believe that any funding or staffing resources available through Seattle Parks & Recreation should be directed towards park maintenance and safety efforts and not a one-time 4-5 hour event.

We ask our neighbors and community members to consider volunteering with us. As the advocacy needs of Cal Anderson Park grow, we need to grow the Alliance. We know there are many of you reading this who not only enjoy spending time in the park, but also care about the park and recognize it is a vital and vibrant part of Capitol Hill. Please help us expand our efforts as volunteer advocates, ambassadors and stewards of Cal Anderson Park.

Thank you,
The Cal Anderson Park Alliance

UPDATE 6/16/2016: Seattle Parks has joined the great Capitol Hill Independence Day “press release” battle of 2016 with this announcement *not* that the 4th of July picnic is happening, but that the planning for the 4th of July picnic is happening… which we guess is better news for picnic fans than the planning is not happening, right?

Planning for the 2016 Capitol Hill Independence Day Community Picnic to proceed

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) is grateful to report that a number of individuals have offered to help plan the annual Capitol Hill Independence Day Community Picnic at Cal Anderson Park. The Picnic is a signatureJuly 4 event for Cal Anderson Park and the Capitol Hill community.  SPR is optimistic that an enjoyable community event will be able to take place this July 4, though on a lesser scale than in recent years. The traditional time for the picnic has been noon – 4 p.m. at Cal Anderson Park (1635 11th Ave.).

SPR recently reached out to the greater Capitol Hill community to invite community participation in helping to plan the event. The Planning Committee received pledges of donations in addition to volunteers committing time to help with this year’s event. With this support, along with a one-time funding contribution from SPR, the picnic currently has a budget of just over $4,000, an amount sufficient to have a modest, yet enjoyable event with live music.

The planning committee is hopeful there may be other donors willing to contribute, which would allow additional components to be added to this year’s picnic. Anyone interested in contributing to planning efforts, including contributing donations or in-kind resources, or volunteering time on the day of the event, should contact Randy Wiger, Seattle Parks and Recreation at 206-684-0775 or Financial donations will be handled through a 501c3 non-profit partner organization.

Demolition begins for Hugo House, Broadway post office projects

On Broadway, the process began Monday. On 11th Ave, Wednesday is the official start of demolition. Two centers of the Capitol Hill community — one charming if a bit cramped and full of history, the other the opposite of charming but still cramped — are being demolished this week to make way for new mixed-use projects.

On the corner of Broadway and Denny, the demolition has begun to make way for the new six-story development that will replace the longtime post office. The developer plans to use brick, corten steel, and glass to finish the structure and units are planned to have 3’x6′ balconies from which to gaze out upon the wonders of Capitol Hill Station and the most rapidly growing stretch of Broadway. It is expected to open by summer of 2017. The post office, in the meantime, has moved down Broadway — and won’t be coming back.

The other chunk of Capitol Hill community ready to meet its demolition fate probably deserves a more respectful end. Instead, the 1902-built mortuary that became known as Hugo House ends its life fenced-off, mostly gutted, and with its roofing in disarray after a Seattle Fire training session. The literary nonprofit said goodbye with one last party and has moved to First Hill for a temporary stay. It will return in two years to a new community center inside the new mixed-use project set to be built at the site. The new 10,000-square-foot space will include six classrooms, offices, two performance spaces, and space for writers to do their thing. “We want it to make sure it’s a place that feels warm and welcoming to writers,” executive director Tree Swenson told CHS.

Reminder: Start your month of Pride on Capitol Hill with Clean Sweep 2016

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill’s tradition of starting Pride with a good scrubbing of Cal Anderson, Pike/Pine, and Broadway returns Sunday. It’s time for you to grab some gloves, a garbage bag, and an excellent free t-shirt and take part in Clean Sweep 2016, Sunday, June 5th starting at 10 AM in Cal Anderson Park:CHCC-CleanSweep-2016-sm

The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce is kicking-off another year of Pride Month with our annual Clean Sweep event, in partnership with Pridefest, on Sunday June 5th!

Volunteers gather at Cal Anderson Park at 10am for coffee & pastries sponsored by our local Starbucks!  We’ll give you a stylish “I Am Capitol Hill” t-shirt and all the supplies you’ll need before dispersing teams to scrub the streets.

Registration is free and open to all.  Kids are welcome! Groups are encouraged to register as teams.

After we make the hill “sparkle”, volunteer teams will return to the park where they’ll be treated to a free lunch and music!


City says Cal Anderson Independence Day Picnic canceled unless new organizers step forward

The 2015 picnic (Images: CHS)

The 2015 picnic (Images: CHS)

You will still be able to watch 4th of July fireworks from Capitol Hill — but, for the first time in 13 years, there might not be a free community picnic in Cal Anderson Park to celebrate the nation’s independence.

City of Seattle officials are looking for a solution after the picnic’s longtime community sponsor the Cal Anderson Park Alliance informed City Hall it would not be able to organize the 2016 edition of the event. The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce was asked to take over the event, a city rep tells CHS, but declined.

IMG_9959-600x400According to a Seattle Parks representative, it’s not an issue of money to support the free community event that typically involves free hot dogs and root beer floats, music, and game booths. Here is what the fun looked like in 2015. Capitol Hill’s community groups are apparently tapped out on a much more valuable resource — human capital. Without volunteers available to organize the picnic, the 14th annual Cal Anderson Independence Day Picnic might not happen:

The annual Capitol Hill Independence Day Community Picnic is a signature July 4 event for Cal Anderson Park and the Capitol Hill community. Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) is committed to supporting positive and family-friendly activities at this park to help it continue to be a treasured resource for the community.

Because the long-standing community organization that has traditionally organized the community picnic is not in a position to do so for this year’s event, SPR is reaching out to the greater Capitol Hill community to invite participation that will allow the event to take place next month.

Anyone interested is invited to attend a meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 7 at the Cal Anderson Park Shelterhouse, 1635 11th Ave. E, or contact SPR staff Randy Wiger at 206-684-0775

If enough volunteers step forward, both for the planning needed over the next four weeks and for the day of the event, SPR is willing to lead the planning effort, and believes that it is possible to hold an enjoyable 14th annual community picnic event.

Parks is hoping to find new energy to step in and help make the event happen as a celebration of the national holiday and also a celebration of Capitol Hill’s busy central park. Officials are planning a community meeting next week to look for a solution — and, hopefully, find some of that much needed human capital needed to pull the 2016 picnic together.

Community meeting for 2016 Capitol Hill Independence Day Community Picnic planning
Date: Tuesday, June 7.
Time: 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Location: Cal Anderson Park Shelterhouse, 1635 11th Ave. E.

CHCC-CleanSweep-2016-smUPDATE: Don’t forget, you can also help make Cal Anderson great at Sunday’s Clean Sweep 2016: “Volunteers gather at Cal Anderson Park at 10am for coffee & pastries sponsored by our local Starbucks! We’ll give you a stylish ‘I Am Capitol Hill’ t-shirt and all the supplies you’ll need before dispersing teams to scrub the streets.” The annual Pride event marks the start of a month of celebration and events across the Hill.

Capitol Hill Mural Watch | Student art graces Cal Anderson’s Gate House ‘windows’

Capitol Hill’s mural and suddenly popping-up out of nowhere public art game is strong. The latest edition is being worked on this week inside Cal Anderson:

This spring the historic Lincoln Reservoir Gate House at Cal Anderson Park will host Seasons all around, 14 original temporary artworks created by nine Washington Middle School students. The artworks will grace the windows of the gate house through December 2016 and feature images inspired by the four seasons.

Guess we should quit calling it “the pumphouse.” The project is a collaboration between the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Historic Preservation Program, the city tells us.

S. Jackson’s Washington Middle School students worked with teaching artist Nate Herth “to design and create 14 original paintings reflecting on the park and the vibrancy of the Seattle.” According to an announcement of the project, students “drew upon their varied prior experience with art, color, and Seattle’s neighborhoods to create this public art installation.” The artworks created by the students were photographed and printed and are being installed in the gate house’s window features that have also showcased various organic artwork over the years.

The new art comes after a good scrubbing of the reflection pool. Meanwhile, a few other Cal Anderson maintenance mysteries persist.

This Sunday, May 22nd at 11 AM, the students and Herth will be part of an opening celebration of the temporary addition to the park.