Fourth of July Chaos

fireworksBatten down your hatches, people, this 4th of July is going to be a doozy. Wallingford typically sees 35,000 – 45,000 visitors coming through to Gas Works to watch the fireworks. This year, however, the crowds are going up a notch: the Elliot Bay fireworks display has been cancelled, meaning all the people who traditionally go there are coming here. The SPD is expecting an extra 10,000 – 15,000 people to visit our sedate little neck of the woods that evening.

The SPD and the Department of Neighborhoods visited the Wallingford Community Council meeting last week, and WCC president Mary Heim provides us with this summary of the plans:

SPD’s media department is going to try to get the word out that it is going to be a mess and urge people to stay away. Right. Their goal is to minimize additional disruption for the people that live in lower Wallingford as much as possible, so they will have entry points at every other intersection during the day. People may be asked to show their registration to prove they live there and they are asking that people that are having parties send invitations stating the address and that parking is available for the guest.

…The Seattle Fire Department is working on a calculation to determine the maximum safe capacity for the park in order to determine at what point they just shut down the entry. In that event, One Reel will direct people to the Wallingford Steps and up Wallingford Avenue to view the fireworks from there. There will be officers to direct people up the street, walkways on the sidewalks with the street (no parking there obviously) taped off for standing and viewing the fireworks. A significant percentage of people arrive in the last hour or so before the fireworks start so they would not be standing there for very long.

SPD will have additional traffic control, extra bicycle units, and officers on foot throughout the community during the day and particularly starting 5-6 PM when most of the action really starts. The other big push will be after the show is over and gridlock begins. There will be officers at every intersection along 40th and I think maybe even 45th. They will be directing traffic, with the big flashing signs and will move Southbound I-5 flow along 45th, Northbound I-5 entry to 50th and a significant amount of the traffic coming out of the West portion of the community up onto Aurora N/S.  Their goal is to keep it moving and clear it quickly.

Of particular concern, to those who live in the area is the bathroom facilities: One Reel is providing none outside of Gasworks Park itself (and, as noted above, even that may be closed to entry after a certain point). Given our country’s fondness for drinking beer, and beer’s fondness for causing urination, Wallingford leadership has correctly determined that this is a recipe for disaster.

The WCC and the Wallingford Chamber are seeking local businesses that are willing to sponsor port-a-potty’s to be distributed up Wallingford Ave (and environs). It shouldn’t be too expensive (~$100) and it’s a great opportunity to create a very, very positive impression on the public. Contact Kara ([email protected]) if you’re interested.

Alternatively, residents could charge passerby’s for use of their facilities. Beats selling lemonade.

  1. Rebecca said,

    Years ago a Q13 reporter took a pit stop at our house on Latona after the fireworks. We offered beer but she declined.

    Mon, June 8 at 11:27 am
  2. SeattleAlan said,

    Fourth of July Chaos – Appropriately Titled!
    The thought that SPD is going to somehow improve their total lack of how to direct traffic really makes my head spin. SPD has no idea how to effectively direct traffic – every 4th of July is another theater of the absurd (in uniform). We’ve been here 33 years and we find it the most chaotic night of the year, with the “traffic control” doing nothing but add to the mayhem.
    The most sane thing is to leave town and avoid the whole mess. 4th of July in Wallingford is like a mini-Sturgis rally, where my cousins leave South Dakota for that week in August.

    Mon, June 8 at 3:08 pm
  3. Chris said,

    Mmmm, now how can I put my characteristic optimistic lens on this event?

    Still thinking…

    Still thinking…

    Still thinking…

    Mon, June 8 at 4:54 pm
  4. Wallyhood said,

    How about “nobody will be speeding up Wallingford Ave”?

    Mon, June 8 at 5:26 pm
  5. gp said,

    I love the 4th in Wallingford. I’ve been to 17 in a row and always look forward to it. Yeah, it’s a hassle and someone usually blocks my driveway but I get a little charge out of living in the place everyone wants to be one day out of the year. I put wheels on my garage couch just for this event! My advice – get something good to barbecue, put your garbage cans in front of your driveway, and enjoy the fireworks. It’s always a great day to bike around the hood and it’s the best people-watching day of the year. If you don’t like crowds/fireworks it’ll be over by the next day. How bad could it be?

    Mon, June 8 at 5:28 pm
  6. SeattleAlan said,

    It is fun, and I’ve gone to the festivities on occasion. But just don’t, I repeat, don’t try to drive anywhere near the area.
    If you have to drive anywhere, leave early and get back late.
    Otherwise, “traffic control” will have you going in circles just to get to your own home.

    Mon, June 8 at 5:58 pm
  7. Chuck said,

    I’m with gp. I’ve only lived here a few years but have loved the 4th each year. Nothing like ambling a half block, beers in pocket, for an amazing view of the fireworks. And my kids made a killing selling lemonade and rice krispie treats.

    Mon, June 8 at 6:00 pm
  8. DOUG. said,

    Few things are better than to have a party come to YOU. Can’t wait.

    Mon, June 8 at 6:27 pm
  9. persnickety said,

    *ahem*. “Batten”, not “baton”.

    Mon, June 8 at 7:22 pm
  10. Wallyhood said,

    Thanks, persnickety, I fixt it.

    Mon, June 8 at 8:21 pm
  11. Eimear said,

    KING 5 picked up on this story on Sunday – obviously on a slow news day.
    Check out
    The Chamber “working for you!” :-)

    Mon, June 8 at 8:34 pm
  12. Tone said,

    I love the charging for people to use your toilet idea. How much though? 1$?

    Tue, June 9 at 1:21 am
  13. Peg said,

    One thing that would help: Allowing N-bound traffic on Thackeray after 9pm or so!

    Tue, June 9 at 8:58 am
  14. Rob said,

    Also, tangentially related I guess, don’t forget the annual 4th of July speed trap at the north(bound) end of the Aurora bridge around 40th. Nearly every year the SPD and/or state patrol set up there and pull over every single speeder.

    Tue, June 9 at 9:39 am
  15. Chris said,

    I like Doug’s perspective — how often does a party come to YOU? I’m already starting to feel myself getting into the spirit.

    Tue, June 9 at 11:02 am
  16. Kerrizor said,

    I don’t mind the 4th – we watch the show then sit on the porch and get pissed while watching people try to go around the roundabout the wrong way :) My only real beef is people parking in front of my driveway so I can’t get out; I delight in thinking up ways to sabotage their car (not that I’d ever do it, you understand!!)

    Tue, June 9 at 1:26 pm
  17. Jenny said,

    The neighbors in our building, up north a ways from Gasworks, all sit on their balconies and watch the fireworks and ooh and ahh together. At the end, we all applaud and cheer. It’s the most connected I feel to my neighbors all year. I’m with others who’ve said living in Wallingford is great for Fourth of July. It’s all the people who have to drive into our neighborhood from elsewhere who’ve got it bad.


    Tue, June 9 at 3:09 pm
  18. Kimberly said,

    I’m all for the party coming to me, but honestly, how can One Reel not be REQUIRED to rent port-a-potties for the event? 40,000+ people and no extra potties? Yikes! Who can I call?

    Tue, June 9 at 8:13 pm
  19. SeattleAlan said,

    Well, for the non-party-hardy folks out there, a saner alternative, yet a lot of fun, is to go to the AquaSox game up in Everett on the 4th of July.
    Watch the young guys play ball and then watch their fireworks afterwards.
    Avoid all the craziness of people trampling through your neighborhood and peeing in your yard (creative avoidance – what you don’t see/experience doesn’t bother you).
    We’ll be there with our “kids” and our 2 year old granddaughter, who had a great time last year.

    Tue, June 16 at 12:39 pm
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