For some Puyallup residents, the thought of millions of people converging on the city to visit the Washington State Fair next month may come with a little anxiety.
But dozens of nonprofit groups, individuals and schools provide parking year after year, and the money they charge people to park goes to different causes.
“For us, it’s all about location, location, location,” said Diana Grosch, development director at All Saints School. “The fair is part of who we are here at All Saints.”
Grosch estimates All Saints’ volunteers worked 2,400 hours in 2012. Last year, parking at All Saints in the grassy lot between 6th and 7th avenues benefited from very warm weather.
Star Rentals donates portable lighting to keep the parking lots safe, Grosch said.
All Saints has four lots available during the fair: paved lots at the school and the parish, and the two grassy lots near the fairgrounds.
“Our volunteers are always in red aprons with a red flag,” Grosch said. “All of our proceeds go to benefiting the school’s operating budget.”
Grosch said the school raised tens of thousands of dollars last year from parking. It’s one of the school’s major fundraisers of the year.
Through the fair season, the school also collects canned food for its parish food bank that supports the community. The school collected 1,000 pounds of food last year.
“I enjoy it because it’s a way for our families to get to know each other,” said Mona Sullivan, a co-chair for the fundraiser along with her husband, Jason. “We get to reconnect with people we haven’t seen over the summer.”
Puyallup Mayor Rick Hansen enjoyed his part with the South Hill Rotary Club last year, when the organization parked cars on the southeast corner of 9th and Meridian to raise money for Helping Hand House.
“With the money raised, we bought another duplex that was made available for Helping Hand House to house families and help them get back on their feet,” Hansen said.
He said the city recognizes there isn’t enough parking in all the lots to meet the fair’s needs.
“The fair has allowed the public to open up their lots,” Hansen said. “It’s worked well the last year in particular. The guidelines that are being used are a good working tool to help meet the need of the parking.”
Karen LaFlamme, spokesperson for the Washington State Fair and Events Center, said it’s part of the fair’s 50-year tradition for the public to open their properties to parking. There are 9,316 parking spots in the public lots that are owned by the events center.
“We rely on neighbors, churches and schools to provide parking,” LaFlamme said. “School programs are enhanced by providing parking for their fundraisers. Private property owners have said they pay their property taxes by having people park on their lawns, and others say it’s their holiday money for shopping for gifts.”
The public’s compliance with the rules and regulations during the fair has been 100 percent, city staff members said.
“The city has worked proactively with residents in recent years to provide information on licensing, safety, best practices and other requirements,” said Melanie Harding, a city spokesperson. “This included community information meetings, putting more information on the website, providing city staff on the ground with printed information for parking providers, and establishing an email list for parking providers. By working directly with the residents who provide parking, we’ve received a lot fewer questions in recent years.”
For rules and guidelines the Puyallup Police Department will enforce for parking during the Washington State Fair, visit www.cityofpuyallup.org/visitors/parking/puyallup-fair-parking/providing-fair-event-parking.
Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.