Arts & Life
Cars pulled to the side of the viaduct on its final night. Note the bright lights coming from the back of the northbound lane — those cars don't want to inch forward, because they want to be the last car to drive the viaduct.
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Cars pulled to the side of the viaduct on its final night. Note the bright lights coming from the back of the northbound lane — those cars don't want to inch forward, because they want to be the last car to drive the viaduct.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Juan Pablo Chiquiza

Were you there? Seattle threw the viaduct an epic goodbye party

On Friday night, Seattle let her hair down.

That wasn't the plan. At 9:30 p.m., it seemed like half of Seattle had descended on the Alaskan Way Viaduct for a polite final drive before the bridge shut down forever.

Those who came said they thought the road would be empty, that this would be a quiet, windows-rolled-up, cellphones-out, SEATTLE kind of affair.

Oh-ho-ho no way.

“This is a little old Seattle, lumber and fishing Seattle,” said Colette Ogle, who watched from Victor Steinbrueck Park. Ogle moved to Seattle in 1979, when she was 18, and now lives on Queen Anne.

First came the honks – celebratory honks, but Seattle does not honk, so this put everyone on alert that this was gonna be a P-A-R-T-Y. Windows came down, and music poured out, daring you not to woot-woot.

Topless women walked northbound like no big deal … motorcycles popped wheelies … Lime bikes swerved … a fireworks show lit up from the center lane just before the Battery Street Tunnel.

“This is insane,” Ogle said. She looked around her. “And here we are in this crazy, beat-to-shit park known for its crazy-beat-to-shitness.”

Drivers pulled over to side lanes, turning them into shoulders. They shared a joint, and a selfie, and reached out to high-five those driving by.

From the shoulder, Audra Saisslin, 23, bumped Macklemore: “And we danced, and we cried and we laughed, and had a really, really, really good time take my hand let’s have a blast. Let's remember this moment for the rest of our lives.”

Saisslin grew up driving to Ballard for church, and her family took the viaduct.

“We grew up going over the viaduct every single week, so it’s kind of bittersweet,” she said. “You got to see the city grow, and the skyscrapers coming up. Now I don’t know if we’ll have the opportunity to be so close to the growth.”

Ten p.m., the official closure time, came and went, with the party well underway. Where was traffic enforcement? Where were the cops? It was controlled anarchy, several noted.

From Victor Steinbrueck Park, the writer's Facebook Live video:

"There are no police here,” said Ida Boeckstiegel, who has lived in Seattle since the 1980s and drove the viaduct three times on Friday night with her sister Julie Fitzimmons, who was visiting from Alaska. “They’re just letting them do what they want.”

A National Barricades truck sped by. A barricade and several sand bags fell off the back.

An older man in a fancy car, wearing a polo shirt, pulled over and ran into the center lane. He pulled the rogue barricade off the road. Those watching from the Pike Place Market cheered as though he had scored a touchdown.

Eleven p.m. — seriously, where were the cops? — a motorcyclist yells up to those watching the show from the Pike Place Market: “Build bridges, not walls!” No matter that we were tearing this one down; it was another reason to go wild.

As the night went on, Colette Ogle waxed poetic. This wasn’t just a bridge coming down, she said. “It’s merging our city back with its water source, Puget Sound.”

Before midnight, the police rolled up on both sides of the bridge. It was time to shut the party down.