‘Summer Nights’ street closure is a big hit on First Friday

Hundreds of islanders hit the street from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, June 2, for an expanded gallery cruise and art walk celebration hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.

A flower market, fish fry, sacred space, and plenty of community spirit were all part of the mix in what the Chamber planned to be an ongoing series, Vashon Summer Nights, to take place on the first Friday of each month this summer, through September.

“The event showed the full potential for economic development and community building of these kinds of events,” said Amy Drayer, executive director of the Chamber.

With the street closed to traffic, galleries, retailers, and restaurants jumped in to host special activities that helped lift the spirit of the planned celebration, just in time for a sunny kickoff to June.

The most visible highlight of the night was the chalk installation created by artist Jennifer Hawke at the intersection of Vashon Highway and Bank Road.

As friends created and held space at the crosswalks, Hawke chalked a flower of life pattern. Watchers were then invited to chalk their own contribution to the pattern.

The activation attracted kids of all ages – while down the street at Island Queen, Chautauqua fifth-grade teacher Ashley Smith hosted a Vashon word poem scavenger hunt for kids. Those who completed the hunt won a token for a free ice cream cone.

Restaurants along the highway with on-street seating were particularly popular; many guests were reluctant to leave even as cars began rolling by again at 8 p.m. Later traffic wasn’t a problem at Windermere Vashon, which invited passersby to a pop-up outdoor living room in their parking lot, complete with a fire pit and pulled pork sandwiches from Aeggy’s food truck.

All in all, it was a bustling night on Vashon.

Special events at the Vashon Heritage Museum and the Senior Center provided even more options for islanders of all interests. And revelry lasted long past the street closure, with Five Star Anna performing at Snapdragon and the opening of a new bar, Durong, located in the back of Sugar Shack, owned by islander Hedy Anderson.

South of town, at Vashon Center for the Arts (VCA), the Spring Dance concert enchanted large audiences with Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” performed by the students of VCA’s Center for Dance program.

VCA also hosted the opening of “Monuments to the Past,” an exhibition of large photographic images of Vashon Island’s ancient stumps by Vashon photographer Bill Rives, open through June 25, while exhibits in the center of town at SAW, VALISE Gallery and Swiftwater Gallery also drew enthusiastic crowds.

Correction: A previous version of this story, published in The Beachcomber’s June 8 print edition and online, under the headline “‘Summer Nights’ a hit, but county could put kibosh on event,” detailed communications between King County Roads and Vashon Chamber, according to Chamber director Amy Drayer, that indicated King County might no longer agree to support street closures on Vashon in the same way that has happened in numerous past events. King County has said these characterizations contained inaccuracies. We will continue to report on the story to provide a more fully accurate account, but have, for now, removed all references to the county’s involvement in the event. We strive for accuracy and regret the errors.