By Linda Wallace

Author's thoughts on the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Music for White Center

Things are popping in White Center this summer. Friday, July 13, the White Center Arts Alliance kicked off the first of the White Center Music Nights. My husband and I spooned up delicious Indian food at Mehra’s Indian Grill to a 20s and 30s jazz tempo performed by Del Rey and Craig Florey. Then we went on to Café Rozella for dessert and rap/hip hop with a conscience by Global Heat. Other participating restaurants were the Salvadorian Bakery, 88 Restaurant, Pho 54 and Taqueria Guaymas. We were disappointed that we didn’t have enough time or enough room in our stomachs to go everywhere. But we can try again in August. Music Nights in White Center will be held the second Friday every month through October.

If you can’t get enough of a music fix at Music Nights, you can go to Café Rozella at 7:00 p.m. any Friday all summer. Last Friday, we listened to Children of the Revolution. It was a very Seattle experience as it was raining. Usually, the bands perform in the plaza in front of the café; last week, they sang and danced flamenco inside the tiny coffee shop. As many people as could fit crowded inside. We huddled under a dripping table umbrella outside and peered in the window. It was still fun, though. Tonight, we’re going to hear Eduardo Mendonca. It doesn’t look like it’s going to rain.

Last Saturday, as a part of Seafair—Seattle’s Summer Celebration, the White Center Jubilee Days Parade was held. I took all of the pictures posted here at the parade. The one at the top is of music of a different kind, the John F. Kennedy High School Lancer Marching Band.

The Seafair Pirates were out in full force, terrorizing children and old ladies and handing out candy. The boom of the cannon from their pirate ship on wheels could be heard for blocks. The pirates have been marching in parades and gracing other Seafair events since 1949.

White Center's parade began many years ago as a decorated-bicycle parade for children. A Little League team carry on the tradition.

A drill team adds flair to the parade.

And what would a parade be without beauty queens? The White Center Jubilee Days Parade had a full quota.

Politicians joined the parade, too. This doggy is for Dow, Dow Constantine that is.

The parade was part of a two-day street fair that included food booths, arts and crafts, children's entertainment on the community stage, a carnival and a Saturday night street dance. Rain was eminent the entire weekend, but in typical Seattle fashion, a good time was still had by all.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007


July 4 is a great day to write about parks, considering many celebrants spend their holiday in one. June 8-14 was an exciting park week for me. As a part of their Neighborhood Parks Program, Starbucks Coffee Company donated $550,000 to King County Parks (the largest gift they’ve ever received) for an "ultimate makeover" of White Center Heights Park. I (along with a total of 1,500 other volunteers) worked one of the two four-hour shifts every day of the renovation except Sunday, laying sod, grubbing blackberries, hauling and spreading wood chips, and shoveling mulch. It was thrilling to watch the park take shape.

By Friday morning, June 15, the park was ready for the unveiling and dedication. In typical Seattle style, the event was accompanied by rain, but the drizzle didn’t douse the spirits of the hundreds of children from White Center Heights Elementary who had walked across the street for the party. When King County Executive Ron Sims took the stage, I heard a little girl solemnly tell her friend, "He’s a politician." Other dignitaries spoke, including Executive Director of the White Center Community Development Association Aileen Balahadia, King County Parks Director Kevin Brown,. Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington Daniel Winterbottom, Starbucks Coffee Company Regional Marketing Manager Heywood McGuffee, King County Councilmember Dow Constantine, and Washington State Representative (D-Seattle) Joe McDermott, who helped secure $500,000 in the Capital Budget for the next phase of renovation at the park, including wetlands restoration and water quality improvement. A Native American gave a particularly moving talk about respecting and loving the land, but I failed to note his name, as did King County in their news release. Shame on them and shame on me.

After the speechifying was over, the crowd swarmed into the park, exclaiming over the beauty of the plantings and art and lining up for the hotdogs for the children and ethnic food (Indian, Central American/Mexican, Vietnamese) donated by local restaurants for the adults. One of the unusual features of the new park is a traditional imu, or underground pit for roasting pig. Imu is the Hawaiian name for the pit; the park signage probably calls it something else, but since I once lived in Hawaii, imu is the word I know best. Community members, including me, attended several meetings last fall and winter to plan what we wanted for the renovated park. Since White Center has, among 80 other nationalities, a large contingent of Tongans and Samoans, an imu was strongly recommended, and the University of Washington students included it in their park design. Pacific Islanders started their preparations on Thursday for the roasted pork that was served at the unveiling on Friday. It was totally delicious.

Okay, how lame is this? A picture of a picture. But I was included on the Starbucks poster that is displayed on an events kiosk at the park entrance, and I wanted to flaunt my moment of celebrity.

Harrison, one of my Cub Scouts when I worked in the Scouting program, made this owl house, along with numerous songbird and bat houses, for his Eagle Scout project. I’m so proud of him. The birdhouses are a great addition to the park.

Art is a big part of the new park. The King County Parks site has an all-inclusive slide show documenting the park makeover from the initial park-planning meetings to the final dedication. You can see the decorative glass being poured, fitted into the columns, etc. It was a fascinating process. Check it out.

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