20 years ago when I went to high school in Parramatta there is no way I would have imagined myself dancing the night away with thousands of people at a car park street party in Church Street.
How could I as I was surrounded by fumes from the WRXs and Holden commodores doing happy laps up and down the street, while rushing past all the empty run down shops hoping you don't come across a weird or suspicious person, to get to the awesome new mega mall, Westfields.
As an urban planner I detest what mega malls have done to our lifestyles, and our environment. But at the same time it's hard to blame people for being attracted to them. The offered a secure "safe" place to hang out at. The only other safe place I remember I could hang out in was the library and that becomes uncool at different stages of a teenager's life.
Over the past 20 years Church street has transformed and the outdoor life has slow rejuvenated. The road was narrowed to give more space for people walking, more outdoor play equipment added for street play, the vehicle traffic reduced and now with light rail the street has been converted to public space for people.
Last night I saw the most vibrant happy version of Church Street I have ever seen. Lots of families celebrating Holi day and even those who weren't celebrating Holi day had plenty to see and do and experience with so much interactive street furniture, art installation and music to enjoy.
More details of the Parramatta Nights festival here.
Hopefully these open street events will become part of a community spirit and continue to create memories and form part of our culture.
Church Street, Parramatta in 2018 before Light rail construction began (map link). Photo source: Googlemaps.
10 car parking spots converted to an entertainment venue.