Park(ing) Day Brings Tacoma Community Together


BLRB Architects employees sign a pedestrian’s Park(ing) Day passport. A passport with five or more signatures could be traded in for a chance to win a variety of prizes.

Nelson Athow, Eli Dugan, and Parker Briggs

Last Friday, September 15, a variety of organizations temporarily transformed 36 parking spots all along Pacific Avenue into parklets during an event known as Park(ing) Day. The organizations that participated ranged from the Annie Wright Upper School for Boys, to the Greater Tacoma Convention Center, to BLRB Architects.

The various organizations had come up with a multitude of unique and interesting ideas. The City of Tacoma Office of Environmental Policy and Sustainability had activities focused around promoting a greener Tacoma, the Tacoma School of the Arts created a space for chalk art, and BLRB Architects built a paintable pool table.

BLRB Architects set up a pool table on which paint covered pool balls could be knocked around a canvas, with a 3D map of Tacoma underneath. The balls went into grooves that represented roads on the map. A BLRB Architect employee said that the idea was inspired in part by the success of a paint-themed project at last year’s Park(ing) day and the desire to have a work of art to take away at the end of the day.

“I think…letting people create this, rather than it just being a final product that people look at, people feel like they’re part of the city, part of making the city,” he said.

This year’s Park(ing) Day in Tacoma was organized by Downtown on the Go and sponsored by BLRB Architects, AHBL, and MetroParks. Downtown on the Go aims for a “vibrant, integrated downtown Tacoma – where daily life is enhanced by connecting people, green spaces, arts & culture, and jobs.” More information about Downtown on the Go can be found at, and more information on Park(ing) Day in general can be found at

-Nelson Athow


On Friday September 15, Parking Day was held around the world. In downtown Tacoma, 36 “parklets” were constructed and maintained throughout the day inside spaces that would normally be used for parked cars. Multiple organizations including the Tacoma Historical Society and Tacoma Needs Trees were represented with their own parklets.

The idea of Parking Day was first conceived in 2005, when a group in San Francisco took a single metered parking space and put in some fake grass, a tree and a bench. After their two hours were up, they packed everything up and left. Since that day 12 years ago, the idea of turning parking into park has become a worldwide movement. In fact, in 2011 there were almost 1,000 parks spanning 6 continents.

This year, there were 36 parklets along Pacific Avenue. A few stood out as exceptionally original, for example Mike Reffalt’s parklet. His intention was to teach passersby the card game cribbage, as he wanted to share his love of the game to others. Although there are a variety of methods to cheat at the game, Reffalt assured us he was playing clean.

Annie Wright Upper School for Boys also had a parklet set up on the day. The idea behind it was to “break the everyday boredom of walking down the street.” The students expressed this by setting up a homemade ping pong table and inviting passersby to compete against one another.

“I think it was a great turnout. Everyone who played seemed to have a great time,” said Annie Wright student Gavin Grier.

The students also set up sofas if people simply wanted to sit down and relax for a few minutes.

-Eli Dugan


The Annie Wright Upper School boys ran a ping pong table downtown last Friday, in a parking spot on Pacific Avenue. This roadside setup was part of Park(ing) Day, a worldwide event in which parking spots are converted into unique city parklets, aiming to bring attention to the lack of urban open space. This year in Tacoma, over 35 spots were transformed from 10 am to 2 pm by various schools, organizations and eccentric people of the area. This is the seventh year that Park(ing) Day has taken place in Tacoma.

The Upper School for Boys’ space was designed as part of their Architecture & Design class, during which they will help build their own school building later this year. On their 8 x 20 foot spot, the boys had a small ping pong table, along with a number of sofas and chairs. There was always a game in action to draw attention.

“It shows people how they could be utilizing public space,” said Ian Ball after disassembling the parking spot. “We have achieved the goal of Park(ing) Day by collaborating with team members and bringing the Tacoma community together,” he added.

The Annie Wright Upper School for Girls also hosted a spot, featuring a wooden wall that passersby could draw on. The Seabury School and the Tacoma School of the Arts each had spaces as well. The organization Tacoma Needs Trees had a clever game to remind people to pick up after their pets, where the player could toss bags of “dog droppings” into a metal trashcan. Many local businesses were involved as well, though the majority of parking spaces were run by individual people who had a particular interest that they wanted to share with Tacoma.

This year’s parking day didn’t just show the possibilities of how to use urban space; it demonstrated how far a little bit of creativity can go. Most importantly, it got people to try new things, interact, and brought the Tacoma community just a little bit closer.

-Parker Briggs