“Pianos in The Parks,” a summertime event that places artist-decorated pianos in Puget Sound area parks, is back with a scaled-down, encore presentation after COVID-19 upended an annual musical run that had lasted since 2014.
The last event in 2019 featured 13 pianos in Seattle and Bellevue parks. This year, there are only two pianos to play — both within walking distance of each other in the Issaquah Highlands.
One is a grand piano painted by artist Soo Hong, placed just east of the Regal Issaquah Highlands multiplex. It features an abstract design of swirling blues, pinks and yellows with bold black stripes.
Mazzy Meyer and best friend Mayah Krug, both 13, found the grand piano on Sunday, sharing the piano bench as they played along with a recording of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” on Mazzy’s phone.
A smaller piano is on the north side of a Marshalls store. The upright instrument was painted by Priyanka Parmanand and features swirling fish and flowers floating over blues and greens.
Each piano is in the Grand Ridge Plaza shopping district, which underwrote the event this year. A hand-sanitizing station is available for players to use before and after tickling the ivories.
The pianos were auctioned off to raise funds for cancer research at UW Medicine. According to an email from Marty Griswold, executive director of One Reel, which produces the free event, the grand piano alone raised $1,450. Griswold added: “Classic Pianos has donated every piano ever used in Pianos in The Parks (well over a hundred pianos!)”
The pianos go to their new owners in September after the event finishes up Tuesday.
Organizers described this year’s Pianos in the Parks as a “micro-event that celebrates local artists and musicians from the surrounding Issaquah area community.” The event plans to return in full swing in 2022.
Griswold added: “100% of the money [is] going to cancer research at UW Medicine on behalf of the Chin Family Fund, set up for Sam Chin, who succumbed to cancer last year. The family is from Issaquah Highlands. We worked with Sylvia Chin [wife] & Nic Chin [son] who is an accomplished pianist. In fact, he performed at the launch event. Together the pianos raised $1,750, which is far beyond anything we’ve ever seen.”