Woodstock is the only city in the state to take part in the event, called PARK(ing) Day, as part of a larger initiative where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to transform a parking space into a temporary public space.
The spot was right off Main Street near the pedestrian crossing between Oak and Elm Streets, with the temporary installation welcoming visitors from noon to 7 p.m.
Sponsored by GROW, or Green Reaps Opportunity for Woodstock, founding member Melissa Casteel said the grassy sod and greenery were on loan from Buck Jones Nursery and Super Sod, and the mini-park took about two hours to put together.
The theme was Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter Tea Party and featured an Etowah High School student posing as Alice, a woodland-inspired table and chairs and a bean-bag “bunny” toss game for kids.
“We really wanted to promote the arts and have more of an inspirational theme to get people thinking about how we can use spaces in our city in a creative way,” Casteel said.
Casteel and other GROW volunteers were on hand to provide brochures with tips on living a more eco-friendly lifestyle and also gave Woodstock residents more information about the city’s switch over to Waste Management as its residential garbage service provider beginning Oct. 15.
Another goal of the installation was to show how to upcycle, or reuse, waste materials into something new and usable that could also be used for better environmental value.
GROW used wooden pallets to create the table and some of the lawn games and also some wood stumps as seating and table décor.
Serving as Alice, Kristina Welch, daughter of Amy Welch of Woodstock, said she volunteered after learning about the event through the Elm Street Cultural Arts Center, where she has performed in plays since she was about 7 years old.
“I especially liked that it had a theme—it’s helping the environment but also fun and for a good cause,” the 14-year-old said.
PARK(ing) Day started in 2005 when a San Francisco design studio converted a metered parking space, located in an area the city designated as lacking enough public space, into a temporary park.
Since then, urban landscapes have been temporarily transformed in much the same way in an attempt to have more discussion amongst communities about including more green space.
Kathy Stose, a volunteer with GROW, said she’s proud Woodstock is the first city in Georgia to make this happen.
“It’s important,” Stose said. “We need more green space and healthier oxygen to breathe. It also teaches our children to appreciate nature.”
With the downtown area parking spaces at a premium around lunch time, drivers still honked and said hello to show appreciation for the mini-green space.
“We’ve gotten a great reaction,” Casteel said. “We want to get other organizations and non-profits involved next year.”