Park(ing) Day temporarily turns parking spaces into parks

Claudine Zap
Claudine Zap
Yahoo News
Leon Yin, a junior studying biochemistry at New York University, relaxes in a lawn chair while paricipating in Park(ing) Day on September 20, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
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PARK(ing) Day

Parking is not normally considered a fun activity. But try turning a parking space into a park  – one spot at a time – and you get a very different experience.

That’s the point behind the annual Park(ing) Day, an event that encourages people to temporarily reclaim parking places for anything except cars. Participants on Friday transformed normally unexceptional-looking curbside metered spaces into a beach, an outdoor yoga studio, and even an al fresco café.

“What a fun thing,” said Michelle Packham, an interior designer for Gelfand Partners in San Francisco. The 37-year-old led the charge to bring her office outside for the day. (Full disclosure: The writer's husband works at the firm.) Their spot at 10th Street and Howard was decorated with an old-school desk, chairs, and plants. “You start to notice how much traffic is there and how much noise,” she added.

But maybe that’s kind of the point.

“It’s about reclaiming the space from the car for people to express themselves creatively,” Rebar principal Matthew Passmore, one of the creators of the event, told Yahoo News.

Passmore's first attempt was in a two-hour metered space on urban Market Street. "It was done as an art experiment to see how people would react," he said. He thought he might be arrested, but instead, people came to the area, took off their shoes and enjoyed the transformation of the spot. (Other cities have stricter policies, requiring participants to get permits, according to Passmore.)

Other cities started asking Passmore how to start their own event, so now there's what he calls an "open source manual" to the event. "People can change it however they want," he said.

People have.

As of last year the event had grown to 975 installations in more than 160 cities on six continents and included places like Iran, Madagascar, Venezuela, and South Korea, according to Rebar. "It's about reclaiming the space from the car for people to express themselves creatively," he said.

For any drivers supremely annoyed by the loss of their favorite parking spot: Those spaces will be back to their normal selves after today.