Fifth annual Phoenix PARK(ing) Day celebrates people, community involvement

(Alexis Macklin/DD)
Phoenix PARK(ing) Day brings together individuals and organizations to occupy Downtown parking spaces. The event, organized by Stacey Champion, is celebrating its fifth year. (Alexis Macklin/DD)

Downtown Phoenix residents, advocates and organizations will take over parking meters downtown on Friday to host a slew of activities in celebration of the fifth annual Phoenix PARK(ing) Day. Each meter will be made into a PARK, each with a unique theme or goal.

(PARK)ing Day is a worldwide event, with 975 parks within 162 cities in 35 countries, spanning six continents.

“In Phoenix, the event began originally as a combination of sustainability initiatives and community engagement,” said Stacey Champion, Phoenix PARK(ing) Day’s head organizer.

Champion, who took over from Yuri Artibise in 2011, was part the Phoenix event when it began in 2009 with the original group of approximately ten people.

Back then, the main goal was to show what cities would look like if they were designed at a time without cars, Champion said. She emphasized the event is “pro-people, not anti-car.”

The event has expanded to include local artists, food PARKs and even community badminton games in addition to the original eco-friendly PARKs.

The only rule of the day is that “you may not sell or advertise” in your spot, according to the event’s Facebook page.

“Corporate events are just that, corporate. You come in, sell your product, you’re done,” local artist Hugo Medina said, going on to praise PARK(ing) Day’s lack of corporations and advertisements.

In similar fashion, Champion said the lack of advertising and blatant promotion helps preserve the event’s grassroots core.

Medina will bring his paintings to the event and turns his parking spot into a mini studio.

Medina said he also enjoys the variety of people and groups in the lots, with everything from yoga sessions to big bands performing.

The event helps get the community involved and meeting each other, Medina added.

However, there is still room to grow and it would be great to see “more people enjoying the beautiful day,” Medina said.

PARK(ing) Day has no plans of plateauing and is expected to continue to expand in the coming years in the same intensity as the last five years, Champion said. She said she hopes to see more creativity-oriented PARKs, more students and just more participators in general.

Journalism junior Tayllor Lillestol has set up a PARK in the past as part of the Barrett Leadership and Service Team Downtown, a student volunteer organization.

She said she enjoys the community involvement of the event, which helps bring everyone together, especially the students and locals.

Confirmed lots for Friday’s event include Chalkboard PARK by Rogue Green, Percussion PARK by members of the Rhythm of Life Steel Band and Bike PARK by Phoenix Spokes People.

Champion said she is most looking forward to the “continued support and involvement of the city.”

PARK(ing) Day has two locations in downtown Phoenix, as well as a location in downtown Tempe. The main location will be between First and Second avenues on Washington Street and the ASU Downtown campus location will be on First Street in between Taylor and Fillmore streets. The event will go from 7 to 10 a.m. Friday morning, with PARK set-up beginning at 6:00 a.m.

Editor’s Note: Director of Community Initiatives Connor Descheemaker is an organizer for the ASU location for Park(ing) Day. He did not contribute to this story.

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Correction: Sept. 19, 2013

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated PARK(ing) Day’s roots. The event was made with the vision of seeing how cities would look if they designed at a time without cars.

The article incorrectly stated that a lack of corporation involvement helped preserve the event’s grassroots core. It is the lack of advertisement that helped preserve the grassroots nature.

The article also previously misstated the event’s time. The correct time is from 7-10 a.m. Friday.