By Amy Lindsey
Programming and Marketing Manager, City of Spokane

As Riverfront Park’s $64 million redevelopment project comes to a close and the pandemic nears our rear-view mirror, there’s a renewed sense of optimism and energy for our next chapter.

This spring, Spokane Parks and Recreation celebrated the final leg of Riverfront’s redevelopment journey with a North Bank Grand Opening to commemorate our newest park additions: a 40,000 square-foot Ice Age Floods-themed playground – the largest regional playground in eastern Washington; a new wheels park; and signature basketball courts, courtesy of Hooptown USA.

Voted one of America’s most beautiful urban parks by National Geographic, Riverfront is a 100-acre urban oasis, home to the largest urban waterfall in the country. The park is considered the jewel of downtown Spokane and draws more than 3 million visitors annually – a must-see stop on every Spokane tourist’s itinerary.

Riverfront is home to the prized Looff Carrousel, the Numerica Skate Ribbon and SkyRide, and unique playgrounds and passive walking paths.

Access to free and low-cost community programming is a priority and coordinated effort for Riverfront staff. Our mission is to bring joy to the community through affordable and compelling urban park experiences, a concept that draws heavily from the 2014 Riverfront Park Master Plan’s vision to create a dynamic calendar of events, offering a variety of programming that reflects a diverse range of community interests.

In 2019, Riverfront hosted over 500 public and private events that were enjoyed by 287,615 attendees, a 27% increase over the previous year. In addition to hosting some of Spokane’s largest community celebrations, such as Hoopfest and Pig Out in the Park, we presented a full calendar of diverse educational, cultural and entertainment activities.

We offered free yoga, spin, barre, and ice skating classes; featured ghost stories, art galleries, historic tours, storytime, 4th of July fireworks, and food truck rallies; and created a mesmerizing Pavilion light show that changes with the seasons – all curated to attract people of all ages to our downtown core.

Despite the pandemic’s devastating impact on community gatherings and events, 2020 was a year of innovation and program advancement. We created several new signature events and always looked for ways to say yes when everyone else was saying no. In fact, that quickly became our 2020 mantra!

We launched our first-ever Winter Market at the Pavilion, featuring more than 20+ artisans and a selection of Spokane’s favorite food trucks, designed to draw visitors downtown to utilize business services and spur economic recovery.

We also kicked off our Holiday Tree Walk and Trail of Lights, a wandering path of beautifully decorated holiday trees and dynamic lighting displays, designed to invite visitors into the park. Add a ride on the Looff Carrousel and gondola over the Falls, and voilà, instant family night out!

In 2021 we are staged for a big comeback. With the support of our strategic programming partnerships, we have several confirmed concerts on the books, a full schedule of fitness activities, Riverfront Eats food truck rally, Storytime at the Carrousel, Shakespeare in the Park, art galleries and more.

Economic recovery will be a community effort. Riverfront will continue to seek public-private partnerships that utilize our open spaces to their full potential, building strong communities, and connections, one program at a time.

Interested in becoming an event sponsor? Contact Amy Lindsey at alindsey@spokanecity.org.

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