Walkin' the 'hood: For a few Strollers more and the park with no name

Down here at the bottom of Queen Anne we are a happy but slightly confused group. We're not always sure whether we are a traditional neighborhood or an entertainment center. Heck, we can't even agree on our own name.

Some folks stand solidly by Lower Queen Anne. Others say Uptown, and say it loud and proud.

But once a year, at least for the third time in the last four years (2003 excepted), we can all agree that our neighborhood is hosting an all-day party.

This year's Uptown Stroll is slated for Sept. 11, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The 2004 Stroll is being billed as "a festival of art in action."

The venue is Queen Anne Avenue and Mercer and "Beyond."

The Stroll will feature musicians, crafts, storytelling, fun stuff for kids, artists and a community remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001.

This year's chairperson is Jane Horowitz, the proprietor of Horowitz Trading West on First Avenue.

Horowitz is a bubbly woman who spent her working life as a diamond buyer for Ben Bridge, then as a massage therapist, until the fateful day a couple of years ago when she walked into an antique store on First Avenue in Lower Queen Anne and learned the owner had to abandon the business because of an illness in the family back East.

Horowitz said she called her husband to tell him she'd bought something.

He thought it was furniture. It turned out to be the business itself.

Horowitz is obviously enjoying her store, but the love has stretched beyond her front door.

"The Stroll is to celebrate this community. The Stroll is different from other fairs in that the artists are doing their work right on the street, in front of local businesses. There will be more than 20 artists on hand," Horowitz said.

One of those artists will be Ann Bowles, a former Chicagoan who now makes Queen Anne her home.

Two years ago Bowles stretched quite a large canvas out and did a mural with help; she recruited passers-by to each paint a square.

"The Uptown Stroll is great because it brings this community togeth-er," Bowles said. "At first I wasn't even sure this was a neighborhood down here. It just seemed like businesses; I never thought of it as a connected community. But it is.

"Uptown Stroll celebrates this reality. It's a party. People can come and do whatever they want to. Just come out and have fun and participate.

"The Stroll is omni-generational and multicultural," Horowitz added.

It's expanding, too. This year there will be crafts booths in the "no name" park at the corner of First and Roy, a recent gift from the city on the site of the old "Blob" - a unique building whose last inhabitant was a Greek restaurant. The building is long gone, but the corner has not yet been developed into a park.

Horowitz said that development is coming, and she and her fellow Strollers even have a suggested name for the future park: Counterbalance Square.

Horowitz said the Sept. 11 date was chosen because the weekend before was already taken by Bumbershoot, and the Sept. 18 date was a conflict for many businesses, which already had other commitments.

"I lost a friend on 9/11," Horowitz said. "We decided to commemorate the day. There's a slip of an alley [on First just south of Mercer] that will be the site of a revolving art installation commemorating 9/11."

A feature of the installation will be photographs taken, developed and displayed on the site throughout the day by Tonya DeVorchik.

There's also a plant show slated for the gardeners amongst us.

There won't be any booths this year, but there will be a spoken-word venue.

The Stroll has been gifted with use of the plaza square in front of Bartell Drugs (and above Larry's Market) for the day.

"Anyone who wishes to do 15 minutes of poetry, or a short story, should call Terrilyn Towns at 284-3884," Horowitz said.

There's also going to a mini-mainstage at First and Roy where improv artists and musicians will be featured.

Horowitz and her co-chair, Luke Madsen, are excited about this year's Stroll.

"There's a great energy. Every- one I've asked to help so far has said yes. We have everything ... from lifetime artists to first-time painters. It's going to be great," Horowitz concluded.

Who would want to argue with her?

After all, it's our neighborhood's annual party.

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