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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Seattle Center in November: Time-Warped, Dingy, Deserted Like Coney Island in Dead of Winter

It's always a bit of a mixed bag heading to the Seattle Center to partake in their annual Winterfest Celebration. I don't think I'd venture anywhere near it if it wasn't for my 10-year old son, who considers it the utmost treat to wander past the deserted arcade, boarded up snack bars, stock-still bumper cars, to enter, in other words, his own private late-November Coney Island. I took him out of school an hour early, just in case we were battling crowds, but nope, no crowds at all. In fact, it was very easy to find a parking spot, and

the two most abundant species were the glaucous-winged gull and the lowly rock dove, not the usual throngs of homo sapiens sapiens. What my son wanted most was a Space Needle sweatshirt; in fact, he wanted that more than actually going to the top of the Needle, so we went in search. Inside the Needle, there wasn't a single shirt with the simple design he was looking for (just the needle, for God's sake, not a dancing Needle, not the words "Space Needle" without an actual picture of the Needle), but outside, in a little shack-like year-round gift shop, we found him a nice, cozy navy blue sweatshirt with an actual picture of his favorite Seattle landmark.

Sweatshirt procured, it was now time to venture over to Fisher Pavilion and the famed ice rink. There were only a few folks scattered around the big sheet of ice, so we could skate hand-in-hand or race around and not worry about knocking anyone over.

I kept looking around and thinking, gawd, ice rinks are depressing. It's not only the one at the Center--they were depressing as a child, too. I always preferred skating on a pond. Not an option here in the land of green grass and rain, rain, rain.

Whenever I'm around the space needle, my mind wanders to 1962, and the year Seattle hosted the World's Fair. No, I wasn't old enough to be there, but no matter how the Center folks strive to spruce it up, it still looks like this 1960s relic of ugly, ugly (utilitarian) architecture, and lots of kitschy sculptures. The one redeeming addition these past 10 years is the whimsical fountain that entices young and old to venture down toward it and attempt to escape before it releases huge amounts of water during its rendition of six or more speeds and heights. My favorite part in the sequence is when it shoots straight up, the water falling with a racket onto the huge metal dome beneath it. Truly spectacular!

Otherwise, a gloomy place, though the green grass all around the fountain cheers things up a tad.

My son, on the other hand, enjoyed every minute of it, mostly because he had a rare afternoon with his mother all to himself.
He kept saying 'this is the best day ever" and "we should do this every day." Indeed.


Jeannine said...

I know everyone in Seattle hates the East side, but may I recommend Bellevue for your next Christmas outing? A beautiful ice-skating rink (new-ish even! Not depressing at all!) and the Holiday Garden light show at Bellevue Botanical Garden. (I thought they were really impressive this year, and walking around with hot chocolate is a great holiday experience) and taking a look at the toy soldiers, holiday lights and Christmas trees lining the streets this time of year is truly Yuletide-spirit inducing.

Jeannine said...

Hey, I just realized you already know about Bellevue! Because you go there all the time! Oh well - thought I was revealing a huge well-kept secret :)

Martha Silano said...

Actually, I haven't ventured to Bellevue for their holiday rink and such. It sounds like a weekend field trip is on tap. Thanks for the tip.

Jeannine said...

Hee! I remembered you may go there more often than I do! But I think we often ignore the hidden "good" parts of the places we go to the most often. At least that's how I'm feeling now that I've moved back. Woodinville is lovely, and I'm trying to appreciate a new part of it every day.

Botanical garden Christmas lights = happy!