Queen Anne Playstreet – August 2018

This year, Queen Anne Greenways decided to see if we could pull off TWO Playstreets – and found that we could – although at times we felt as if we were in an upside-down process, along with our young customers.


Our Playstreets focus on using a block of a street that passes through a civic campus  (City Pool, Community Center, Middle School, Sports Fields and Farmers Market) for activities focused on families and children. We promote them in advance;


and consciously hold them in conjunction with the Thursday Farmers Markets.


This gives us an automatic audience and gives that audience some added attractions. The market includes a truck food court with lots of interesting menu choices that


makes it possible for people to hang around for a while and enjoy the busker entertainment that the market features, in this case, folk songs.


The Queen Anne Greenways Playstreet frames the market with activities that vary from small and intense to large and challenging – such as this climbing wall by Seattle Adventure Sports.


Don Cheyette and his team introduce each new climber to a harness;


and give them a beginning lesson. Then they’re on their own.  Well, often some moral support is required from Mom and Dad.


And occasionally a boost over a tough spot.


The equipment is set up so that even if the climber totally lets go, the suspension cable won’t release until they choose, and even then the ride down is slow and reassuring. Some of the climbers have done this before.


This young lady made barefoot climbing look pretty easy. She also had a good sense of how to use the various hand and foot holds.


Of the ones I saw climb, she came the closest to the top.


Apparently it’s really in her genes – she free-climbed this tree a little later.


Just down from the climbers, Scott Cooper of Blue Highways Games, generated a different kind of excitement.


Lots of noise – and disbelief when this young woman won AGAIN.


I didn’t watch long enough to catch on to Speed Cups,


but anytime you have to “beat the bell” things get wild. Blue Highways makes a point of giving everyone an opportunity to “unplug and reconnect” by stocking only board games, puzzles and in-store competitions that don’t need electronics.


They have a strong following, and many of their customers showed up here.

We enjoyed having Christiane Woten from the Queen Anne branch of the Seattle Public Library come again and bring her collection of crafts. At this sort of event,


there’s a lot of craziness going on; but we’ve learned that for many, quieter involvement in creating things has more attraction. The library also has many local fans.

In the middle of the Playstreet we had to deal with a modern intrusion. In spite of putting up No Parking signs 3 days in advance, we still had three cars parked on the street when our set-up process began. Unluckily, one of them was sitting on top of an event we couldn’t move – our giant checkerboard.


So we got out the stencil and shifted the board a couple of rows to the west, a nuisance task to have to accomplish at the last minute. The owner of the car eventually turned up and – not very apologetically – moved her car. The giant size (15″x 15″ squares) invites animated interaction.


It also encourages parent / child participation, with all the inherit balancing of ‘learning the game’ against ‘winning and losing’.


Corey Lynn Atencio came again this year to introduce kids to Yoga. This offers an interesting combination of energy and calmness to the rest of what’s happening.


Corey reports that one of the fun things about working with small children is their combination of willingness and flexibility. Suggest a move – and done !


And of course, all these positions can be held with balloons attached.


A new and different group joined us this time, the Seattle Audubon Society (SAS).


Etta Cosey (foreground) and David Garcia (purple shirt) brought a collection of books, stuffed birds, binoculars, spotting scope, and information about the SAS. Since birds fascinate us but are normally elusive, handling them (even though they’re stuffed with cotton) becomes an exotic experience.


Birders know acutely how important good optics are for seeing birds in the wild where they’re often somewhat hidden in trees or shrubs some distance away. David brought binoculars, the best choice for a quick survey of a habitat.


But he also included a spotting scope, normally used where birds have perched for a period of time and can be examined in detail. Of course, it takes a bit of practice to figure out which eye to use and how to search for the bird.


I suggested we might be able to find a cooperative bird to help the process out.


And luckily for us, a Northern Flicker landed on a nearby tree and held very still.


Most Northern Flickers don’t come with identification cards; but that’s just one of the many features that the Queen Anne Greenways Playstreet and Seattle Audubon Society can offer to future birders.

We’ve learned over time that balloons are a big hit. We were fortunate to have Liz McQuiston from Queen Anne Kids set up her booth and pump up 250 of them.


We set up the Queen Anne Greenways Playstreet booth in the center of the festivities. As our contribution we helped kids draw pictures and then turn them into buttons. The drawing process was pretty informal but straightforward, overseen by Heather Trim.


Making the buttons involves magic – putting the drawing, the button-back and the drawing cover into the press in the right order and with the right side up or down, clamping it, then turning it around a couple of times and clamping it again.


But with a little practice, the magic works every time.


We couldn’t have done this Playstreet without the enthusiastic support of the Queen Anne Community Center. They supply a lot of the canopies, all the tables and chairs for the booths, and the active play toys that add so much of the energy. They also typically set up a booth or two themselves; and this time they focused on beads.


There’s a fascination in building something large out of many small pieces.


This civilized activity contrasted dynamically with some of the other activities they brought – ones that couldn’t be contained in a booth – like bubbles!


Bubbles exploded from all of the shaped wands

The over-sized blocks also got a workout. We were impressed with how many different ways the blocks could be interpreted.


But the noisiest and most dynamic toys were all the ride’em vehicles in action. We had laid out a track of sorts, which was both heavily used and totally ignored.


The resulting free-for-all perfectly fitted the energy of the afternoon.



To get a sense of what this feels like in motion, check out this time-lapse video made by Jake Ostrow, one of our Greenways supporters. Video Link HERE.

Thanks to Queen Anne Community Center director, Gina Saxby (right) for all her help with our fourth Queen Anne Greenways Playstreet!


The Seattle Fire Department paid us a visit for a while. It’s always popular with both parents and children – who get to sit in the cab –


and check out all the hoses and pumps.


We had a great band this time around – Mud Junket

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They played a mix of jazz, blues and funky songs, and really anchored this part of the Playstreet. At one point vocals guest Sheryl Wiser added her talents as well.


That was a fun touch that I hadn’t seen coming.

Gradually people found dinner at the Farmers Market Food Truck Court and settled in at some of the tables and chairs we had scattered through the area.


Our own Queen Anne Greenways team reviewed the day’s activities –


At our table we asked what else people might like to see.


Chalk those ideas up as food for thought

for the next time we close the street to cars

and open it to families to enjoy together.