Queen Anne Greenways wants to get First Avenue West, between Crockett and Howe streets, designated as a festival street.
Queen Anne Greenways wants to get First Avenue West, between Crockett and Howe streets, designated as a festival street.

Queen Anne Greenways pulled out the stops for its first Playstreet event of the summer along First Avenue West on Thursday, July 18, giving families room to play during the neighborhood farmers market.

An offshoot of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, Queen Anne Greenways works to increase mobility and accessibility for people of all ages and physical ability, including walking, biking and driving, with an emphasis on safety.

Queen Anne Greenways Andrew Koved said Playstreet has been around for four years, and the program aims to show people the power and potential that public spaces, specifically streets, have to build community and bring people together. 

First Avenue West closed to cars and opened for fun on Thursday evening, with a big wheel and plastic car track, rock climbing wall, arts and crafts, and seating and tables. There were also booths for Seattle Parks and Recreation, Blue Highway Games and Greenways. One more Playstreet is scheduled for 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15. 

QAG and SNG member Mark Ostrow said the Playstreet is being used as a festival street demonstration project this year. The goal is to show people how that portion of First Avenue West,  with McClure Middle School, the aquatic center, community center and play fields, could be used for more community events if it were a designated festival street. 

“These are great open spaces, you know,” he said. “You look around and kids are just having fun. When they’re just for traffic, and nothing but that, and they’re kind of dangerous, right, people don’t feel comfortable to just go into the streets. And we like to show our neighbors the possibilities for what they could do with streets.

When asked about the loss of parking on First Avenue from a festival street, Ostrow said cars are becoming less popular citywide, and a road blocked off from traffic could promote more walkability and less driving.

“We only give people one choice, and that’s to get places by car. If we create this place in the center of our neighborhood that’s not overrun by cars,” Ostrow said, “it’ll be a lot more inviting for people and it’ll be kind of like those town squares in Europe.”

Queen Anne Farmers Market executive director Matt Kelly said he loves working with Playstreet and a lot of market-goers check it out. 

“It adds a fun element for the families that are here,” he said. “We really like having the kiddos at our kids’ program, and then this is just a fabulous extension out of that.”