Thrifty Thurston Visits The New East Bay Public Plaza – Free Family Fun In Downtown Olympia



Capitol City Honda sponsorOn August 11, the fences come down and the East Bay Public Plaza opens!

Thrifty Thurston takes you on a tour of the beautifully landscaped public plaza.

The East Bay Public Plaza, located in front of the New Hands On Children’s Museum and adjacent to LOTT’s WET Science Center, is a free public gathering place.

With an educational theme, the public space includes artwork and great interpretive elements that revolve around the importance of water to our communities and environment.

Highlights include:

  • A wide open plaza with hidden features that encourage exploration and discovery.
  • A trickling stream designed for wading.
  • Bubbling water rising up to mimic how ground water enters a stream.
  • Seeps dripping down to replicate water entering from a streambank.
  • Native wildlife captured in bronze sculptures throughout the plaza.

All ages are welcome to kick off their shoes and enjoy the cool stream.  Walk along the stepping stones or let the water flow over your feet.  Visit the wetland and listen for frogs or watch for dragonflies.

“The really unique thing about the stream is that it is fed by reclaimed water,” says LOTT’s Public Communication Manager, Lisa Dennis-Perez.  “Reclaimed water has gone through LOTT’s treatment process and has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.  It is the highest quality of reclaimed water designated by the state and it’s approved for public contact.”

Reclaimed water is used to feed both the stream and the wetland, irrigate the landscaping, and flush toilets in the plaza restroom.

In the pavement, alongside the stream, are quotes about water.  The hidden sayings, embedded in beautifully laid mosaics, are aptly named “water lines.”

“The ‘water lines’ are intended to be thought provoking phrases that cause the reader to pause and think about the importance of water,” she says.

With interpretive signs scattered throughout the plaza, and more information coming soon about water-wise plants in the space, there are lots of opportunities to educate children.

“Talk about the role of water in our everyday lives,” says Dennis-Perez who encourages parents to share the importance of clean water with kids.

Dennis-Perez also encourages families to stand under the archway at the southeastern corner of the plaza.  Created by Seattle artist Brandon Zebold, the archway is intended to illustrate the water cycle.  “Look at the cutouts in the archway and see clouds, raindrops, and water,” describes Dennis-Perez.

At the opposite side of the plaza, local artist Mike Cummins has created a mosaic reflecting landmarks from Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, and Thurston County.

Eric Holdener, another local artist, has created dozens of bronze sculptures of creatures that depend on water for life and bronze replicas of historical items that reflect the area’s dependence on water for economic vitality.

Designed by local landscape architect RW Droll and built by local general contractor Berschauer Phillips, the East Bay Public Plaza is a joint partnership between LOTT, Hands On Children’s Museum, City of Olympia, and the Port of Olympia.

“Berschauer Phillips is very lucky and proud to have had major roles building two great projects (East Bay Public Plaza and Hands On Children’s Museum) at the same time and place,” says President, Drew Phillips.

LOTT’s wetland opened a few weeks earlier.  “We are creating our own wetland just outside our front door.  It’s naturally growing pond bugs already,” said WET Science Center educator, Amber Smith, excitedly.  Smith is anxious to use these ‘locally grown’ pond bugs in upcoming free educational events.

Some ideas for using the East Bay Public Plaza with your kids:

  • Challenge your children to find all thirty bronze wildlife sculptures.
  • How many salmon do you spot in the stream?
  • Are there any banana slugs in the area?
  • Locate the round community mosaic and figure out which landmark represents each city.
  • Read the colorful waterlines and ask your child what the statement means to them.
  • Talk about where your family’s drinking water comes from.

Ride, walk or cycle to the East Bay Public Plaza.  Take off your shoes and wade in the water.

And, without exception…. visit the pristine public restrooms.

East Bay Public Plaza Grand Opening

August 11

11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Free activities for people of all ages including kites to color and take home, games like the water conservation prize wheel, free hot dogs, and special water conservation fortune cookies.

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