from “West Seattle 101” by Lori Hinton
When summer hits Alki, it’s hard not to notice the scene. Car stereos thump in the background while bikers, runners and rollerbladers all try not to collide. The place is like a mini Venice Beach during the wild summer days. But when the sun goes down and the cool night air settles, a different and oftentimes tranquil Alki returns, even if only for a few hours.
And there’s no better time for a blazing beach bonfire.
When night falls, bonfires beckon soul-searchers and those who simply enjoy the primitive pleasure of staring deep into the fire for hours on end. The reflective nature of gathering around a bonfire to watch the dancing flames provides a kind of comfort that can be hard to come by in the city.
But West Seattleites are lucky because Seattle Parks and Recreation picked this neighborhood beach to receive a handful of giant fire rings for all to enjoy. You’ll feel like you’re out at a remote coastal beach, but you’re just across the bay from the city.
Do note that fires are allowed only in the designated fire rings and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. In fact, Alki bonfire-building professionals often stake their claim even before sunset. But if you are willing to be an extrovert and join in on someone else’s flame, fire-watchers will often-times share the warmth. Bringing s’mores as a peace offering might do the trick. Just don’t let the seagulls steal your bright idea the minute you turn your back.
Once you get in the swing of the bonfire thing, you may even want to start carrying a bonfire kit in the back of your rig or mount one to your bike for those spontaneous moments when busting out a fire sounds fun. Just load up a milk crate with the essentials – a few dry logs, kindling, newspaper, and a lighter – and you’re good to go.
Although summer is prime time, bonfires can ignite year-round enjoyment (though the past few years, the fire rings have been taken away for maintenance for a few months in winter, and you can’t have bonfires without them). It’s amazing how warm they can keep you on an otherwise unbearably chilly night.
It is said that this same site on Alki Beach is where Chief Seattle greeted the first European settlers on a cold, stormy day in 1851. Bet they wished the bonfire pits were roaring back then.
What: Beach bonfires
Where: Alki Beach (on the wide, sandy stretch of beach between 59th & 56th)
Note: BYOW (bring your own wood and matches of course)
Find more “West Seattle 101” stories on WSB by going here.