What Park(ing) Day Means to Our Parks
Park(ing) Day is just a little mischievous – like the urge you get before you skip a stone across the lake or when you set out your first refreshment stand at the end of your driveway. By temporarily redesigning parking spaces as parklets, commuters and neighborly cohorts have a space to come together on shared interests in the art of recreation, conversation and their respect for nature.
Having just hit its 10th year, Park(ing) Day is an international event celebrated in/on 6 continents, 35 countries, 162 cities and nearly a thousand parks. Park(ing) Day is always on the third Friday in September. The first Park(ing) day inhabited a metered parking space for two hours with a patch of sod, a tree and a bench. For just the cost of a parking space, anyone can essentially lease a piece of prime urban real estate for a few hours.
Park(ing) Day creates a joyful disruption where the automobile has its space occupied physically and culturally. The pop-up spaces explore what makes a park functional, or an ecosystem sound – and that is diversity and a healthy respect for the neighbors. Citizens are invited to linger or to pedal at the self-charging station for a hard-earned charge on the phone. Participants serve coffee and offer live entertainment and celebrate with candy and cornhole. The close proximity to the urban core allows the touchstones of nature to be championed even alongside a chromed-out Suburban. These parklets provide an essential connection with community and leisure space and provide it with great economy and resourcefulness.
Park(ing) Day is in good company. Many permanent parklets have sprung up worldwide, utilizing abandoned train platforms and other former industrial sites. Playgrounds commonly include found and natural materials for children’s enrichment. Parklets offer unique, creative and temporary visions of what it means to be a public space. And we can thank Park(ing) Day for bringing it to us on every third Friday in September.
Great Parks’ employees know better than most how restorative time spent in nature can be. We are fortunate to have a Great Park as our office! But for many, the daily commute to urban centers offers very little respite from concrete and asphalt. Park(ing) Day intends to change that, and maybe Great Parks can help!
Brad Salyers, Crewleader, Woodland Mound