Full disclosure: I am obsessed with parks, adore hearing live music outdoors and am partial to art that breathes new life into discarded objects. So in 2014, when Pianos in the Parks launched its program to place artist-designed, previously loved grand and upright pianos in local parks for a month, the program had me well before hello.
That said, I have wondered — as I came across a few bedraggled pianos over the last two years of the summer program — if leaving pianos outside for a month in our fickle climate was the best idea. It turns out that the organizers were thinking along similar lines and so, for the program's third year, they overhauled it to better serve the pianos and, perhaps, the park-goers as well.
"Weather was a challenge ... It was pretty hard on the instruments," says Randy Hurlow of 206 Inc., which is doing publicity for Pianos in the Parks, a partnership of 17 Puget Sound organizations. "This year we decided to make it a little more turn-key."
Last year's program placed 22 pianos in 22 parks for a month. This year, 10 pianos will be placed in a park for one day each over a 10-day period from Friday, July 8 to Sunday, July 17. A piano concierge will be on hand to supervise the pianos (they will be out from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.). Family-friendly performances and programs will punctuate the pianos' stays.
Two locations will host a piano for the entire 10-day period: Outside of KEXP's new headquarters/gathering space at Seattle Center and at SeaTac Airport's central terminal.
More highlights: There will be a daily musical performance on the piano du jour from noon to 12:30 p.m. for each of the 10 days, and select parks will host activities ranging from drawing jams to musical activities.
10 parks, 10 days, 10 pianos
Ready to make your park hit list for the next 10 days? Here's the lineup of parks and pianos, as well as a few other reasons to visit the slated parks beyond piano time. Also see the Pianos in the Parks website to download a map of all the parks, find directions and see pictures of the pianos.
Friday, July 8, Kerry Park Viewpoint on Queen Anne Hill
Known as one of the best free views in Seattle, this stunning park is a long walk or short drive from Seattle Center. Kerry Park's piano stay will include a pop-up drawing activity by by Gage Academy of Art from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Piano title: Graphic Melody; artist: J. Adam Brinson
Saturday, July 9, Kubota Garden in Rainier Valley
A wild and gorgeous Japanese garden in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of south Seattle, Kubota boasts a huge pond, meadows, a stone garden and more formal Japanese garden. Kids love running up and down the paths and over the little red bridges (photo op alert!).
Piano title: Galum Alux; artist: Ovidio Cartagena
Sunday, July 10: Sammamish River Trail in Woodinville
Sammamish River Trail, of course, is one of the best bike paths around Puget Sound, winding along the river and through farm country. The piano's location is on the section of the trail near the wineries, near Woodinville. The exact location is 14600 N.E. 145th St. Woodinville.
Piano title: Love is in the Air . . . Chance Encounters; artist: Sophia Lael
Monday, July 11: Golden Gardens in Ballard
A repeat finalist for in ParentMap's Golden Teddy Awards, Golden Gardens has a sandy beach, pirate -themed playground, bike trails, bonfires at night and (lesser-known fact) wetlands where turtles hang out, ready to be spotted by kids.
Piano title: Talking at the Same Time; artist: Joseph Brooks
Tuesday, July 12: Crossroads Park in Bellevue
Another reader favorite, this park boasts a Northwest-themed spray park (a climbable orca, spitting frogs and clams), playground, walking trails, covered picnic shelters and even a nine-hole golf course. Crossroads Shopping Center, with ethnic eateries, quarter rides for kids and free entertainment, is a short walk away.
Piano title: Paisley Piano – A Tribute to Prince; artist: Brandy Tomlin
Wednesday, July 13: Westlake Park in downtown Seattle
Located smack in the middle of downtown Seattle, Westlake Park is home to a newish playground with a climbing structure and, of course, is walking distance from hot spots such as Pike Place Market and the wonderful downtown library, as well as a monorail ride away from Seattle Center.
Westlake's piano stay will include an instrument-making activity hosted by Seattle Symphony on from noon to 1 p.m.
Piano title: Dancin’ Keys; artist: Barbi Leifert
Thursday, July 14: Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island
How do spectacular views of Lake Washington, a swimming beach, large children's playground and trails sound? Luther Burbank also hosts free Shakespeare in the Park productions at the amphitheater.
Piano title: Crossings; artist: Cynthia Wessling
Friday, July 15: Tolt-MacDonald Park in Carnation
A 500-foot suspension bridge over the rushing Tolt River leads to this county park where you can play at the playground, bike on trails or camp (including in a yurt or eco-friendly camping container!).
Piano title: Sway Alive; artist: Cassie Murphy
Saturday, July 16: Chism Beach Park in Bellevue
The piano stay at this lovely Lake Washington park in Bellevue includes an instrument “petting zoo” hosted by Classical KING FM from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Piano title: Imaginary Piano; artist: Karina Kudinova
Sunday, July 17: Alki Beach Park in West Seattle
Alki, Seattle's answer to the California beach scene, needs no introduction, right? Dig in the sand, watch beach volleyball, pedal down the Alki Trail to Marination Ma Kai — these are just a few of the ways to occupy your time at Alki.
Piano title: Nostalgic Tides; artist: Brittany Carchano