Mini parks are popping up for PARK(ing) Day

Wenceslao Almazan and his daughter Lucy hang out at the beach stop at University Town Center on Sept. 16, 2016. The city is again hosting PARK(ing) Day events Sept. 21. Photo by Leigh McDonald

By KRISSI HUMBARD — Spaces usually meant for cars will be transformed into pop-up parks tomorrow for the City of Hyattsville’s PARK(ing) Day event, back for the third year. Throughout the day, residents and visitors can visit the pop-up parks and grab samples of coffee and pizza, make some art, learn how to press apples into cider and take a selfie in a garden throne — just to name a few of the activities.

According to its website, PARK(ing) Day is a annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places. The project began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has evolved into a global movement.

In previous years, the city worked mostly alone. This year, staff thought bigger. The city’s Community and Economic Development team invited local businesses and organizations to participate in PARK(ing) Day.

City staff had previously set up pop-up parks themselves, which limited the number of spaces and made having multiple spaces challenging, said Katie Gerbes, the city’s community planner. With the participation of local businesses and organizations, city staff have been able to overlap activities in the different parking spaces. This year, 10 different organizations are hosting a total of 11 different “parklets” all day long.

“Our hope has always been to open it up, but we felt like we needed a few years to have people see it happen before it would take off,” Gerbes said.

Gerbes said city staff have been around for support when needed, but haven’t really been proactive enough about promoting and highlighting some of the local small businesses. She hopes this event will change that.

“I’ve been wanting to do more with our business community,” she said. “I think this is a great public-private partnership that hopefully is beneficial for both sides — the business gets to meet the community, gets some good press from the city, but then it helps us make this day more robust and more widespread when we have so many groups participating.”

PARK(ing) Day will take place at various locations throughout the day in Hyattsville, starting at 7 a.m. and ending at Summer Jam at 8:30 p.m. Visit the city’s website to view a map and list of participating groups, or to find out more.

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