Downtown Mesa is bringing the park to the people. An outdoors-inspired affair, Flash Park Friday hits the streets this week, with miniature parks taking over vacant parking spaces and sidewalks, promising a night of reprieve from an otherwise sweltering September.
The central event and activities will take place on Main Street between Robson and Center streets, while grassy oases will roll out in front of Main Street-area shops. Patrons can relax and sprawl out from 6 to 10 p.m. on the Third Friday of every month -- pets and kiddos in tow.
The parks will have a new theme each time, starting with September's "Splash Park." The pop-up park will feature a water slide on MacDonald Drive near Main Street, and grassy patches throughout the downtown area, in front and courtesy of local businesses.
"Each park will have different things going on," says Erica Snyder, the events and promotions manager for the Downtown Mesa Association.
"The park on the southwest corner of Main and MacDonald will be built by OneOhOne Gallery, The Nile, and Lo Fi Coffee and will have kids' activities, a lemonade stand, and fishing for concert tickets," she says. "The park in front of Margaritas [Grill] will be a dog park. There's really something for everyone."
Floating Lotus will be offering brief yoga lessons and the Aesthetics Institute will provide massages. The event also features live music and a Slushie machine. Adults can enjoy their own booze-filled treats on surrounding restaurant patios.
Mesa is changing, Snyder says, becoming an East Valley destination with the help of places like Gotham City Comics, Republica Empanada, and Lulubell Toy Bodega. Asylum Records is expected to open later this month, moving further east from its current Tempe location.
"The community has really rallied around us and. . . if we all work together, we can prove wrong the stigma of Downtown Mesa. It's really changing before our eyes," she says. "Business owners, community members, and local residents have all decided to take a stand to improve not only the culture of Downtown Mesa -- bringing more art, music, and such -- but also the reputation of what Mesa is [now], not what it was five or 10 years ago. This will give people and opportunity to see what Main Street is like today."
The first pop-up park opened in May in front of Nebula Vaping, an e-cigarette shop and lounge. The small strip of Astroturf-like grass brought with it couches, patio tables and chairs, cornhole beanbag toss -- and plenty of shade. Its popularity prompted the idea to tack it onto the city's calendar. Mesa already holds its monthly Second Friday Night Out staple, a free walking event featuring live music, art booths, and gallery openings.
Cool off from the September summer at Flash Park Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, September 19, in Downtown Mesa. The event is free and open to the public -- and their pets. Head to www.downtownmesa.com/flashparkfriday for details.
Editor's note: This post has been modified from its original version.