Seattle Culture

Raising Funds, Making Friends | Sponsored

Friends' Pier Party builds excitement around a stunning makeover in the heart of Seattle

By Friends of Waterfront Seattle November 27, 2023

Pink Umbrella

This post is sponsored.

Joy Shigaki spent countless hours as a child exploring Seattle’s beautiful city parks. She is now a leader in the innovative and ambitious effort to completely revitalize and transform the city’s waterfront.

Shigaki is president and CEO of Friends of Waterfront Seattle, the nonprofit group helping fund, program, and steward the new 20-acre Waterfront Park. When finished in 2025, the park will stretch from Belltown to Pioneer Square and will connect the core of the city to Salish Sea, the Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, the beauty of Mount Rainier and the Olympics, and people to one another.

Brianna Browne and Berhanu Wells


Simply put, no other city in the United States can marry urban vitality with such natural beauty.

“We are continuing to carve out a new, needed civic place and space for community in this town,” says Shigaki, a national leader in helping fund and program civic projects and parks. “We are building a space centered in community, belonging, safety, and joy.”


The park will become an inclusive, welcoming public space that BIPOC and all marginalized communities can feel that sense of safety, joy, and belonging. It will feature bike and pedestrian pathways, more than 700 new trees and 140,000 plantings, two canoe landing sites for local tribes, and five different playgrounds.

Olive Goh, Omari Salisbury, and Joy Shigaki

The spirit of the project was on full display at Friends of the Waterfront Seattle’s recent Pier Party, held at Pier 62. Part fundraiser and part “friend-raiser,” the party showcased what the nonprofit does best: connecting people through community centered programming and experience in the most beautiful space in the city – Waterfront Park.

It was raining, but nobody cared. The dance floor was packed by 8 p.m. Guests were encouraged to show off their fancy footwear — and did! It was the place to be. The event raised $200,000.


“What a night on the Pier and a kicking party it was for Friends,” Shigaki says. “Folks were excited, having fun, and (for some) realizing something IS happening down on the waterfront. The tent is big for Friends, and it got even bigger.”

Pier Party guests hit the red carpet

Friends of the Waterfront is 100% funded by philanthropic donations. The group is raising $170 million through the Campaign for Waterfront Park to both complete park construction and ensure it is safe, clean, welcoming, and activated well into the future.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently gave Friends of Waterfront Seattle a $10 million challenge grant. MacKenzie Scott also contributed $10 million. Friends is now focused on major gifts to meet the Gates Foundation challenge and will invite community gifts at all levels beginning in early 2025.

In addition to a one-time overall economic impact of $1.1 billion from construction, Waterfront Park is expected to generate $317 million in new visitor spending annually.

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