On September 20, 2019, communities worldwide will celebrate International Park(ing) Day. The day is a is world-wide, annual tradition of turning urban parking spaces into parks, green spaces, public gathering areas, and more. It is a vivid showcase of alternative uses for public space, traditionally used by automobiles. It is a day for citizens to become involved, take ownership of their city and change it for the better. The celebration treats metered parking spots as a short-term lease for a plot of precious urban real estate.
Each year, the Allentown Parking Authority (APA) takes advantage of the occasion by giving back to their local community. The APA conducts a two-month long donation drive, benefiting two local agencies in need of food and household items, culminating on International Park(ing) Day. Along with the donation process, each donor receives a raffle ticket as they fill crates with these items.
In the early morning hours of International Park(ing) Day, the APA’s Executive Director, John Morgan, and his staff go to work transforming four metered downtown parking spaces into a welcoming, park-like setting for the day’s activities including food, drinks, music, games, prizes, and more. The space will include grass, trees, flowers, park benches, fountains, and even a hot dog cart.
Discussing last year’s event, John Morgan stated, “Last year’s event was amazing! We wanted to do something special for our community and we were excited to incorporate this fun event with something meaningful and deserving of our efforts. It was such a success, that we absolutely wanted to do it again this year. Our goal is to collect twice as many items and have twice as many guests on the day of the event.”
The APA Park(ing) Day event is expected to draw nearly 300 people. This is a great example of using parking to bring together communities, help organizations in need, and transform parking spaces into creative spaces! If your parking department or organization is celebrating International Park(ing) Day, please share your story with us here!