News blog for Seattle's Fremont neighborhood


Entries from September 2009

More Aurora Bridge closures today

September 29th, 2009 by Heidi

Seattle Department of Transportation crews plan to continue work on expansion joints on the Aurora Bridge today.  The right-hand northbound lane will be closed from 10am-2:30pm, unless it starts raining.  In the event that it rains, roadwork will be rescheduled for a later date. 

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SPU freshmen begin school with community service

September 28th, 2009 by Heidi

Freshmen at Seattle Pacific University began their first day of college by serving several communities around Seattle.  Nearly 800 students and teachers participated in SPU’s annual CityQuest on Saturday.  The event, which is “strongly recommended” for incoming freshmen, began nearly 20 years ago as a way to help students discover the city, as well as introduce community involvement as part of their college experience. 


After making it through their first year at college, sophmores Anika Severin and Kelsey Lund returned as pod leaders for this year’s CityQuest.  Says Kelsey, “Nothing helps you through awkward times more than doing community service together.”

Painting Fremont Abbey

One group of more than twenty students and a faculty member helped at Fremont Abbey Arts Center, where they painted, cleaned graffiti around the neighborhood, picked up trash and fixed things as needed.  Another group helped refurbish elementary science units at the Seattle School District P-12 Inquiry-Based Science Program on N. 35th St.

SPU has ongoing community projects throughout the year.  If you have a group or non-profit that would like to connect with student groups, register on the school’s Volunteer Database or get on a list for next year’s CityQuest by emailing Owen Sallee at

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‘Bridge Talks Back’ stops audience in their tracks

September 27th, 2009 by Heidi

People driving through Fremont yesterday may have wondered what was going on at the Fremont Bridge.  There were people carrying colorful signs dressed in colorful shirts.  The bridge was laced with colorful pennant strings.  Despite the parading and fanfare, it wasn’t a protest.  This was a celebration.

Bridge Up

Bridge Talks Back” is the result of artist Kristen Ramirez’ summer-long residency inside the northeast tower of the Fremont Bridge.  For the past three months, she collected sounds from in and around the bridge, as well as Seattle residents’ stories of it, and compiled them into a sound art project that honors the historic Bridge through all of its daily rhythm and noises.


For the installation’s opening, sixteen different horn players were stationed inside the bridge’s four towers.  As cars began stopping for the bridge to go up, they played a piece composed by Fremont-based trombonist Tom Yoder.  

Bridge Up signs

The recording of various sounds, from cars and horns to birds and bells, were then played over the structure’s overhead speakers.  Each time cars sat idle for the bridge, nearly one hundred performers engaged in choreographed fanfare with handmade signs.   


The public art project was commissioned by the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs from the Seattle Department of Transportation’s 1% for Arts Fund.  The audio composition will continue to play over the bridge’s speakers during daytime bridge openings from now through April 2010.  You can also hear those recordings, as well as those of residents’ bridge stories, by calling 1-800-761-9941.

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Free Museum Day on Saturday

September 25th, 2009 by Heidi

The Smithsonian’s Museum Day 2009 is tomorrow, which means it’s a great opportunity to check out what some of our local museums have to offer.  All day Saturday, receive FREE general admission to any participating museum location.  All you have to do is fill out and download an admission card.

Nearby, you can visit the EMP|Science Fiction Museum (325 5th Ave N) on Queen Anne.  In Ballard, there’s the Nordic Heritage Museum (3014 NW 67th St).  And in the U District, there the Henry Art Gallery (15th Ave NE and NE 41st St) and Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture (17th Ave NE and NE 45th St).

Make a day of it and have fun at the museum!

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More Aurora Bridge lane closures on Monday

September 25th, 2009 by Heidi

Seattle Department of Transportation crews will be making more repairs to expansion joints on the Aurora Bridge on Monday.  From 10am-2:30pm, the left southbound lane is expected to be closed for most of the bridge length.  The left northbound lane will also be closed prior to the bridge deck.  Warning signs will be in place to alert motorists of the closures.

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SPU starting school year with community service

September 25th, 2009 by Heidi

Nearly 800 SPU students and staff are expected to start the first day of school by serving various communities around Seattle.  On Saturday, from 10:30-2:30, they will take part in an annual community service orientation called “CityQuest“.  Below is a picture from last year’s project at Sacred Heart Shelter in Lower Queen Anne.  (Thanks, Owen!)

CityQuest 2008

CityQuest is a 20-year-tradition aimed at introducing community service to the whole college experience.  Projects include removing graffiti, fixing houses and cleaning parks at 32 sites in different neighborhoods.

In Fremont, students and staff will be at Fremont Abbey Arts Center, where they will be doing outdoor neighborhood cleaning, interior painting and cleaning, and carpentry work.  Another group will help at the Seattle School District P-12 Inquiry-Based Science Program, where they will refurbish elementary science units.

For a complete list of all the CityQuest projects around town, click here.

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Fremont Bridge art project opens tomorrow

September 25th, 2009 by Heidi

Update: It’s not too late if you’d like to be part of the celebration.  Interested performers must be available from 12-4pm.  There will be a check-in tent on the Queen Anne side of the bridge near The Nickerson Street Saloon.

Whether they intend to or not, cars and pedestrians stopped at the Fremont Bridge on Saturday will witness the opening of artist Kristen Ramirez’ public art project.  “Bridge Talks Back: A Sound Artwork” is the result of her summer-long residency inside the Fremont Bridge. 


Between 1-4pm, drivers waiting for the bridge to go up can expect to sit back and enjoy choreographed fanfare each time the bridge opens.  One hundred performers and musicians have volunteered to be part of the celebration, and 16 different horn players will play out of the structure’s four towers.  A sound collage will blast over the bridge’s sound system, and will include clips of boats, birds, bells and the bridge itself.

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Luminata lights up the first night of fall

September 22nd, 2009 by Heidi

Hundreds turned out to participate in the annual “Luminata” lantern walk around Green Lake on Tuesday night.  Organized by the Fremont Arts Council, the procession celebrates the autumnal equinox.

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For the past few weeks, local artists lead a series of workshops where people could learn to make their own lanterns.  Above, artist Leslie Zenz adjusts the bodice to her illuminated bird costume. 


It took two full weeks of 8-hour days to create “The Bird and The Mayor”.  The cane and paper luminaria were originally created to be worn by stilt walkers as part of the Arts-A-Glow festival in Burien earlier this month.


This impressive “Dragon” also took weeks to make.

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People of all ages were invited to participate in the parade. 


Handmade art lanterns were carried by both hand, boat and with this “big catch”, bikes. 

Music and singing could be heard all along the promenade.  The festival concluded with hot cider and treats.  Happy Fall to everyone! 

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Lane closures today on Aurora Bridge

September 22nd, 2009 by Geeky Swedes

There will be lane closures today on the Aurora Bridge. The Seattle Department of Transportation says that the two center lanes (one northbound and one southbound) on the Aurora Bridge will be closed down from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. while crews repair the expansion joints. Two lanes will remain open in each direction.

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Oktoberfest ends with the dogs

September 20th, 2009 by Heidi

After three days of celebration, Fremont Oktoberfest came to a close today, officially kicking off the fall season. 

Pumpkin Carving

The annual Texas Chainsaw Pumpkin Carving competition continued a long-standing Oktoberfest tradition on both Saturday and Sunday. (Thanks to Jody for the picture!)

Dog-toberfest pit stop

After starting the day with the Brew Ha-Ha 5K Run/Walk and Street Scramble, the event also turned into “dog-toberfest” with Dog Day Afternoon activities taking place throughout the rest of the day.

Simpsons dog look-a-like contest

In honor of The Simpson’s 20th Anniversary, CityDogMagazine held a Santa’s Little Helper Dog look-a-like contest in conjunction with its Cover Dog Model Search.  Proceeds from entry fees benefit Reading With Rover, a non-profit that helps children develop literacy skills.


One-year-old pug shih-tzu Toby got dressed to impress the judges.

Toby & Bella

His one-year-old sister, Bella, however, didn’t look quite as pleased to get dolled up.

Little Miss Perfect

Simba, a blind rescue dog from Turkey, had no problem striking a pooch pose.

Simpsons Santa's Little Helper

This little doggie was the eventual winner in the look-a-like contest.

Shi-Shi treat

Five-year-old Shi-Shi won the Cover Dog competition, moving him onto a final round.  Winners from select events will be chosen by CityDog Magazine readers to grace the cover of the magazine’s Winter 2009-2010 issue.  The last qualifying event takes place at U Village’s FidoFEST on September 27.

Sold Out signs

Despite more than 80 brews on tap, by mid-afternoon many of them had already run out.

Until next year’s Fremont Oktoberfest, auf Wiedersehen!

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Scenes from Fremont Oktoberfest

September 18th, 2009 by Heidi

Fremont’s three-day event kicked off the fall season tonight.  It was an evening of beer, beer, beer, and a few buxom beauties.

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More than 80 beers were on tap for beer lovers to sample.

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Legunitas Brewing Co., out of Petaluma, got our vote for best brew name – “The Hairy Eyeball”.

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Food Network’s Guy Fieri (or someone who looks just like him) was in town shooting for “Guy’s Big Bite“.  His Oktoberfest show airs on October 14.

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What’s a party without a game of quarters?


Contestants line up to compete for the title of Miss Buxom 2009.


Meet Miss Buxom 2009, Tiffany Moore, aka Heidi Ho.


 It was a tough call, but Emily, aka Gretel, walked away Miss Runner-Up.

Fremont Oktoberfest goes through Sunday.  Watch master carving artists put their chainsaws to work as they vie for the title in the Texas Chainsaw Pumpkin Carving Contest starting tomorrow at 1pm.  Sunday is for the dogs, with cover model and look-a-like contests. 

Here’s our preview of the event, and for the entire weekend’s schedule and ticket information, click here

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Preview of Fremont Oktoberfest this weekend

September 18th, 2009 by Geeky Swedes

One of the neighborhood’s biggest annual events is sweeping into Fremont this evening. The Fremont Oktoberfest kicks off tonight and goes through the weekend with a long lineup of events and brews. Over 35 breweries will be pouring, including the new neighborhood addition, Fremont Brewery.

The music begins playing tonight at 7 p.m. on the main stage, which is sponsored by The Simpsons as the show celebrates its 20th anniversary.

In fact, here’s Homer with the Oktoberfest folks this morning on Q13 Morning News. Here’s a few of the many events this weekend:

Miss Buxom Contest: Friday at 7 p.m., women dress up in funky German attire and compete to win $1,000 in prizes.

Texas Chainsaw Pumpkin Carving: Watch chainsaw-wielding artists have their way with a pumpkin, Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m. on the Village Stage (contest) and 2:30 p.m. on the main stage (exhibition). More details here, and take a look at our photos from last year.

Comedy Show: On Saturday at 7 p.m., Fremont Studios is hosting a comedy show from some of Seattle’s finest comedians: Jubal Flagg and Kane Holloway, to name a few. Ticket information here.

Brew HA-HA 5k: No better way to deal with a hangover from the night before than strap on your running shoes — just remember to hydrate. The run gets underway on Sunday at 10 a.m. at Solstice Plaza near the intersection of N. 34th Street and Fremont Ave N. Details here.

Street Scramble: If you’re not up for the run, you can “discover the mysteries of the Center of the Universe” with the Street Scramble contest on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. From a list of 30 Fremont locations, see how many you can visit on foot in 90 minutes. Ticket information here.

And by the way, the Fremont Chamber has crowned a “2009 King of Oktoberfest” as part of their membership drive — columnist Kirby Lindsay, who writes here on FremontUniverse as well as on her own site, FremoCentrist.

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Funny business in Fremont

September 18th, 2009 by Kirby Lindsay

On Saturday, September 19, at 7 p.m., while Fremont Oktoberfest rages outside, the Brew HaHa comedy show will take the stage at Fremont Studios (155 North 35th St.) Down the street, at Tost Lounge (513 N 36th St), comedy has become part of the entertainment line-up. As last week’s host, Nick McCord, announced, “Welcome to the free show at the Big Bully.” This Sunday, September 20, the show will begin at 6 p.m. as an option for those looking for fun after Oktoberfest closes.

This is the second year Bold Hat Productions, organizers of the Oktoberfest, have introduced comedy to the festival. “We’ve seen a huge comedy uprising in the last few years,” Kelly Pflugrath, event coordinator for Bold Hat, admitted, “this year, in advance, we’ve sold more tickets than we had in attendance last year.”

Finding A Place

Jen Seaman, a local stand-up comic, brought the Big Bully here, after the last venue, King Cobra, closed. “I feel like Fremont is an ideal location for comedy, and for art,” she explained, and Tost offered “an intimate setting, good for trying out material.” Seattle has few comedy clubs – Comedy Underground in Pioneer Square, Laughs in Kirkland and Giggles in the University District – and “it does become a little daunting at an open mic,” she admitted, as a comedian wedged “between acoustic guitar sets.” Big Bully, Seaman said, “almost has an open mic feel but you know the audience is there for comedy.”

Both Big Bully and BrewHaHa are ages 21 and over shows, but BrewHaHa also charges for entrance. The audience must pay to enter the Oktoberfest MicroBrew Garden, then tickets cost only $5 for the show. Pflugrath explained, “with a ticket price we can get bigger names and a headliner,” such as Jubal Flagg, Kane Holloway, Jim Toombs, and Dan Sapegin. Also, as Pflugrath described, “Fremont Studios is a beautiful venue sitting in the midst of our event.”

Big Bully remains free, and Seaman thinks that best considering the economy. “We really aren’t paying the comics, except in hugs, and beer,” she admitted, and while she is generous with the hugs, she doesn’t overvalue them, “I’m just thrilled comics are willing to do this.” For the audiences, “it’s free escapism. It’s a treat for people in Fremont. I just don’t want to put a price tag on that.”

Building An Audience

“I know other people say they’ve always wanted to do stand-up,” Seaman explained, “I’ve really always wanted to do this.” As a kid, Seaman impersonated Fozzie The Bear, but it wasn’t until her mid-twenties when she moved to Seattle in 2005 (coincidentally, as an intern for Bold Hat) that she braved the “boys club” at Giggles and found success at an open mic.

Now she also produces, although “what I’ve been doing with [Tost owner] Chris is kind of impromptu.” Big Bully doesn’t have a set time or day yet, and Seaman has turned to unorthodox publicity methods. “I got tired of people not taking flyers,” she described of her distribution attempts at the Fremont Sunday Market to a flyer-phobia public. Now, she gets on her knees and scrawls her message on the sidewalks in chalk.

Look for the chalk art, or follow the laughter this weekend. Between the BrewHaHa Comedy Show (not to be confused with the Brew HaHa 5K run on Sunday morning) at Oktoberfest, and The Big Bully, this weekend should give everyone something funny in Fremont.

Columnist Kirby Lindsay has written for The Seattle Press ( and the North Seattle Herald-Outlook ( about Fremont, where she has been for far longer than any sane person would manage. For more of her writing, visit her site at

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Volunteering for Fremont Oktoberfest

September 14th, 2009 by Kirby Lindsay

The folks at Bold Hat Productions work hard organizing the Fremont Oktoberfest. They arrange for beer gardens (three this year, serving approximately 90 different beers), the Texas Chainsaw Pumpkin Carving (along with encore performances), a kids’ area (with Zucchini 500 races), Brew HaHa 5K race and a Brew HaHa comedy show, plus Dog Day Afternoon (including a canine model show and, this year, a Santa’s Little Helper look-alike contest). The office staff spends months leading up to the event, this year on September 18, 19 and 20, in preparation but according to Event Coordinator, Kelly Pflugrath, “if we didn’t have all those volunteers, this event wouldn’t run.”

Ultimately, it takes 700 volunteers to stage the Fremont Oktoberfest, and as of September 4, they still needed 125. “Those are ‘Definitely Needed’ volunteers,” Pflugrath admitted, “on some occasions the event can come to a screeching halt without them.”

Will Work

For one thing, the beer won’t pour without someone at the spout. Pflugrath also places volunteers as greeters at the entrance booth, “giving a good impression,” which can affect the tenor of the whole festival. Volunteers help direct runners along the 5K route and assist with crafts in the kids’ area (“they get the fun job, in my opinion,” Pflugrath said.) Volunteers provide free labor, and in return they get free admission and a t-shirt.

Yet, a large percentage of volunteer staff return each year, according to Pflugrath. “They have a blast!” and after each event, she fields a flurry of e-mails praising the experience. Also, as she walks the neighborhood throughout the year, Pflugrath has seen people sporting Oktoberfest t-shirts, with the special ‘volunteer’ designation, “I’m glad they like them.”

Volunteers also come from those who attended Oktoberfest in the past, and want to get more involved, those who volunteered at other Bold Hat events, community supporters who want to support Oktoberfest which raises funds for the Fremont Chamber, and, finally, friends of friends who volunteer together, just for fun. “We do some advertising, here and there,” Pflugrath admitted. She has sent notices to their large mailing list of Oktoberfest supporters and run ads, in past years, in The Stranger and on Craigslist. “The largest part,” she explained, “is word-of-mouth.” After all, this is a great insider deal – it’s ‘Will Work for Beer.’

For Beer, and Fremont

Bold Hat uses software called ShiftBoard to organize volunteers and since incorporating the software, “we’ve seen a much larger retention of volunteers,” Pflugrath said. ShiftBoard sends out automatic reminders, allows volunteers to manage, or cancel, their shifts, accommodates the scheduling of groups of friends, and sends notices to volunteers about next year’s event. The software, Pflugrath allowed, does send acknowledgements, but Bold Hat already sends out personal notes of thanks to volunteers.

“We definitely need every person who wants to come down,” Pflugrath said. Three days of fun, festival and fellowship – and beer – takes volunteers to happen. To those who give their time willingly to the cause, Pflugrath faithfully swore, “we’ll make sure they have a good time!” If you want to be a part of that, check out (Photo courtesy Patrick Lennox Wright Photography.)

Columnist Kirby Lindsay has written for The Seattle Press ( and the North Seattle Herald-Outlook ( about Fremont, where she has been for far longer than any sane person would manage. For more of her writing, visit her site at

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Musicians Jam For Cause at Tost Lounge

September 11th, 2009 by Kirby Lindsay

When Michael Stegner made plans to celebrate his birthday this year, he turned loose his creativity and ambition for good. He organized a fundraiser, a “musical extravaganza” he called it, for First Place School. On Saturday, September 12 from 6:30 p.m. – 2 a.m., musicians – many, many musicians – will play at Tost Lounge (at 513 North 36th Street.)

On The Stage

Stegner will perform at the show, on keyboards, but he roundly sings praises for the diverse line-up of performers he’s gathered. The evening starts with a jazz trio led by Steve Treseler, whom Stegner called a “monster talented saxophone player.” At 7:30 p.m. is Goat, another jazz band that Stegner described as “top tier improvisers.” They are followed by singer/songwriter guitarist Colin Higgins, the Senegalese drumming group, Yeke Yeke, and finally another trio featuring Andy Sells, Forrest Giberson and Stegner.

At 10:50 p.m. the Michael Shrieve Group will perform. Stegner admitted he never really followed Classic Rock and didn’t know of Shrieve before they met, “but we have so many common influences and interests.” Stegner also explained, “as musicians, we don’t think so much about styles. We play everything,” he said, “this show reflects that mentality.” Rather restricting the show to a particular genre or classification of music, for his birthday Stegner will play with his friends.

The last act features the “very versatile” Byron Vannoy, Hans Teuber (“he’s just a guru,”) Thione Diop, about whom Stegner said, “the first time I heard his group, my jaw was on the floor,” and the birthday boy. “The last band will morph into a jam session,” Stegner suggested, with opportunities for the musicians to experiment – and audience members to dance. “It’s all going to be honest,” Stegner insisted of the performances, “it’s something they can all deliver at the highest level.”

Behind The Scene

Ultimately though, this event provides a fundraiser for First Place School, an innovative education program for homeless children, and their families. Teachers educate while case workers help families find the shelter, work and rehabilitation or reunification programs necessary to help the children succeed.

“I started a music school out of my home,” Stegner said of his Creative Music Adventures ( in Wallingford. Teaching cemented his desire to see music education made available to all children, rather than a luxury among upper income families. “It is really sad, a lot of our musical innovators have come from difficult backgrounds,” and he wants to restore that access.

“Last year I saw that First Place was hiring a music teacher,” he explained. He has followed the school from a far, and always promised himself that ‘someday’ when he became a rich musician he’d help them out. For his birthday he decided to make that dream come true, today, with the help of friends and of his music.

Donations to First Place are always welcome, or attend the show at Tost on September 12. With the musicians donating their time, “all donations go straight to First Place,” Stegner said, “if people want to give more than $15, that would be great!”

Columnist Kirby Lindsay has written for The Seattle Press ( and the North Seattle Herald-Outlook ( about Fremont, where she has been for far longer than any sane person would manage. For more of her writing, visit her site at

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Mural spiff-up and paint-out on Saturday

September 10th, 2009 by Geeky Swedes

The Bridge Mural on Bridge Way under Aurora has once again been damaged by graffiti, and once again the Fremont Arts Council is rounding up the troops to clean it up.

This Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. come out, meet your neighbors and help clean the wall. No experience is necessary to help out, all you need is to wear your paintin’ clothes and, perhaps, bring a bucket and a rag for washing. All other supplies will be provided.