Parks News
Parks News

Knoxville’s Park(ing) Day


Park(ing) Day began with the need for space, some drawings on a napkin, and a big idea.

National Park(ing) Day logo

Rebar was looking for niche spaces in San Francisco, leading them to the idea of using parking spaces. They “determined that at the curbside meter rates, a parking space was an incredibly cheap piece of San Francisco real estate.” Thus creating the first Park(ing) Day in 2005 with several ideas for different parking spaces.

Four years later, Rebar and its new partners were approached with a task- create a “permanent version” of a park in a parking spot. However, that name was quickly changed to what it’s still known as today- a “parklet.” That is, a park in the street. 

The idea of a “parklet” took the world by storm! Soon after its creation, various cities around the world took on the idea, creating National Park(ing) Day.  Keeping the original mission of Park(ing) Day in mind, this event continues to grow each year.

Park(ing) Day celebrate

National Park(ing) Day’s mission is “to call attention to the need for more urban open space,
to generate critical debate around how public space is created, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat.”

Knoxville's Park(ing) Day

The City of Knoxville started their National Park(ing) Day journey in 2018. Taking a virtual year due to the pandemic, they brought the event back to the streets this year.

Accompanied by 10+ groups, Lakeshore Park Conservancy was one of many with a “parklet” on Gay Street. They brought part of the Park to Downtown Knoxville by recreating Marble Hall by hand. 

The recreated Marble Hall was made of repurposed materials, including some of the old stone from the original chapel. 

Knoxville’s Parking Day does facilitate an awards ceremony. The top three parklets and an honorable mention are awarded after being judged on the following criteria:

  • Most Creative
  • Engagement
  • Informative
  • Use of Space
  • Wow Factor
  • Sustainability
  • Protected/Comfortable

The Conservancy won an honorable mention award. 

It was a wonderful sight seeing local companies/organizations come together to educate and interact with the community.  A special thanks to all who are involved in Park(ing) Day- The City of Knoxville, Knoxville by Design (East TN Community Design Center, AIA, and American Society of Landscape Architect), Visit Knoxville, Pretentious Glass, and all those who participated! 

Lakeshore Park Conservancy cannot wait to participate in National Park(ing) Day 2022!

New Ground Music Festival

New Ground Music Festival 2021

After taking a year off due to the pandemic, New Ground Music Festival was brought back to Lakeshore Park on September 12, 2021.

Tyler Larrabee, founder and CEO of New Ground, LLC, partnered with several different nonprofits and companies to make the event happen.

New Ground Music Festival’s focus is to showcase a “new generation of music” that “offers emerging artists the chance to put themselves in front of a larger audience and get a real festival experience.” Having the ability to give the musicians the chance to perform in front of large crowds helps Larrabee’s other focus- raising money and awareness for XHunger.

XHunger partners with area food pantries, food banks and similar organizations to help provide their two greatest needs: volunteers and funding. Their mission? – “To help end hunger in America.” Larrabee is active within the XHunger movement and aims to continue to support the cause with the New Ground Music Festival.  

The night was filled with performances by Knoxville / East Tennessee musicians and ended with the event’s headliner, Knoxville native, Briston Moroney. Having sold over 1100 tickets, it’s safe to say the event was a success. 

Discovery Impact Day

Discovery Impact Day - Knoxville, TN

Discovery Inc. strives “to be a company that gives back and benefits their people, communities, value chain, and planet while prioritizing good corporate governance to build a more sustainable future for all.” To show that this mission of theirs is one that they value greatly, the company created Impact Day, annual event where the employees get to interact and make a difference in their communities. (Discovery).

Impact Day is celebrated in several offices that spread across 30+ countries. This year, the Knoxville office chose Lakeshore Park as their place to make a difference.

discovery impact day
Where and How Was An Impact Made At Lakeshore?

Lakeshore Park Conservancy’s staff spent the day with Discovery’s volunteer group tackling the Hank Rappe Playground.

The first thing to conquer: flower beds. It took a good portion of the morning, but the flower beds were cleared of weeds and trash, then new plants went in.

The afternoon crew took on the next assignment- clean the playground from top to bottom. All of the equipment and surfaces were scrubbed and pressure washed leaving them looking like new.

Lakeshore Park Conservancy cannot thank these volunteers enough for choosing Lakeshore Park to be the place they impacted this year. Their time is truly appreciated and their work really did make a difference. 

September’s Bird Walk

September's Bird Walk Flew By Too Fast!

On September 11, 2021 Lakeshore Park hosted their first bird walk in conjunction with Knoxville Birding Group and Wildlife Unlimited. Birders- new and experienced- came out to see what wildlife Lakeshore had to offer. 

President of the Knoxville Birding Group, a sector of Knoxville Tennessee Ornithological Society (KTOS), Morton Massey led the group’s walk. He spoke about the factors that go into why birds migrate to a specific area, what birds he personally has seen in East Tennessee, and more. 

Morton shared with the group that playing the sounds of a specific bird will attract that bird to the area. While out on the river pier, he played a variety of bird sounds and the group watched several different species fly in. The birders were able to see downy woodpeckers, cardinals, blue birds, warblers,  and several others. 

Lakeshore Park Conservancy thanks Morton, KTOS, Wildlife Unlimited, and all the birders that had come out for the morning!


Read more about bird watching and the walk’s host, Morton, in our bird watching article. 

Master Plan Update: Lower Ball Field Lights Removed

Nelson Byrd Woltz proposed a design for Lakeshore Park that would divide the land into three zones- athletic, civic/cultural, and natural/ecological. The approval of these zones was the start of the Park’s “Master Plan.” One of the most notable changes made thus far came during Spring 2021. 

The steps taken in April included the removal of the lower baseball fields. This provided a large, empty area near the Hecht Pavilion and waterfront. The only remnants of the fields were the lights that could be seen from the HGTV Overlook. 

On July 28, work continued as a team came in to remove the lights. Park visitors paused their walks to watch as the teams pulled each light down individually causing a large crash. 

The removal of the lights allow the Park to continue advancing towards the end goal of the Master Plan. In addition, the view from the Overlook has been enhanced as it is more beautiful than before.

What’s Next? 

Teams can now come in to grade both that area of the Park and the area where new ball fields will be built. From there, the old field area will be prepped for the next phase of construction.

As the Park continues to change and make enhancements, Lakeshore Park Conservancy will keep all visitors informed. 

Bird Watching at Lakeshore Park


Key Information

Who : Presented by Knoxville Birding Group (part of Tennessee’s Ornithological Society) and Lakeshore Park

What : Bird walk around Lakeshore Park

When : September 11, 2021 8:00am

Where : Meet group at Marble Hall

Have you ever walked the trails of Lakeshore Park or attended an event and heard a beautiful sound from a little friend but couldn’t tell what kind of bird that friend was? Or have you seen a bird that was an incredibly bold color and wondered just what type of bird it was? Well, now’s your chance to have all of your bird questions answered! Lakeshore Park is partnering with Knoxville Birding Group to give a free bird walk on the morning of Saturday, September 11th.

Knoxville Birding Group is a part of KTOS (Knoxville Tennessee Ornithological Society) and is looking to teach others about all types of birds that can be found in East Tennessee. Morton Massey, President of Knoxville Birding Group, answered a few questions about bird watching (also known as birding), how one can get into it, what his favorite thing about birding is, and more. To see his full response to each question, click here.

What is Birding?

Birding is the joy of watching birds. This can be done anywhere — from your office desk looking out the window, the walk that you’re on, your backyard, and more! A bird watched can just observe, photograph, and/or keep records of the birds they’re seeing. Morton became a birdwatcher when he was in college. His love of nature began when he was a young boy hunting and fishing with his dad. This love for nature and the outdoors allowed the two of them to go on a birding trip with a friend of his, his freshman year at UT. Fred Alsop, his friend studying for his doctorate, had so much “enthusiasm for locating and identifying birds that it rubbed off on” Morton and his dad. He said at that point they “pretty much gave up hunting…preferring to watch, 

study, and photograph birds… It has since been a lifelong hobby of” his.

What’s one benefit that comes from birding?

One of the best things about birding, according to Massey, is that it can take you so many places. “A few years ago, I set out to see 100 species of birds in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties.  It took four years as I had to make multiple visits to most counties. … the real benefit I got out of the quest was driving the backroads of Tennessee and seeing how diverse, beautiful, and great our state is.”

What key items should a birder have?

Though it may have the great benefit of travel, birding isn’t the easiest of hobbies to pick up on- or the least expensive. “While you can enjoy birds without them, using a pair of binoculars increases the enjoyment tenfold or more.” Massey suggests spending at least a couple of hundred dollars on a good pair of binoculars so one could truly see all the elements of a bird that the naked eye cannot see. Another thing he mentions one should have is a small bird field guide. “Wild Birds Unlimited in West Knoxville has several types of good bird identification options to choose from.” Furthermore, if you’re looking to photograph a bird’s finest details, a quality camera/quality lenses are a must.

Equipment aside, the absolute best thing a birder could have is the ability to stay as quiet as possible and listen. “Good birders identify more birds by sound than they do by sight. When you are in a group of birders, be aware that too much talking and loud talking when the group stops to look at a bird is usually detrimental.”

What species can one expect to see in East TN? 

East Tennessee is a place that either becomes a seasonal home or a great place to pass through for birds. Spring and Fall migrations bring the biggest variety of birds to East Tennessee. “In spring, many birds that rely on insects to feed their young come from further south (i.e. warblers, kingbirds, swallows, etc.) …. We also have large numbers of birds that nest further north in summer then move south to East Tennessee in the fall and spend the winter here.  (i.e. many species of sparrows, ducks, gulls, etc.).”

Is birding hard?

As mentioned before, birding isn’t one of the easiest hobbies to get into, and that’s one thing Massey believes everyone who is interested in birdwatching should know. “There are so many birds to learn about and so many sounds to learn to identify. Then birds make it so difficult because they change their colors at different times during the year and each bird seems to have many variations of sounds they make. It can be challenging.”

Though challenging, Morton Massey ended the interview on a high note by adding, “birdwatching tends to be one of the most relaxing sports known to man. … All you need to do is enjoy the beauty of nature.”

Now what?

If you are new to birding or are a birdwatcher of any level and are interested in seeing more birds, check with the Knoxville Birding Group to see what bird walks are scheduled. Their walks are free, open to the public, and some are specifically geared towards new birders. Spend the morning of Saturday, September 11, 2021 with Morton Massey, the Knoxville Birding Group, and the Wild Birds Unlimited of Knoxville to see who is currently flying around Lakeshore Park!

To Register for September 11th’s walk, fill out this form. We all look forward to having you in the Park! 

For more event dates or information on the KTOS/Knoxville Birding Group, visit their website.


Lakeshore Park Conservancy’s New Director of Park Operations


Coming back to the South after several years in New York, Russell Riddell joins the Lakeshore Park Conservancy team as the Director of Park Operations.

Hello, I am Russell Riddell.  I joined the Lakeshore Park Conservancy in July of this year as your new Director of Park Operations.  With over 25 years of experience in landscape management, I most recently moved from New York City where I was the Manager of Turf Care for Central Park Conservancy. I helped manage 350 acres of lawns, sports fields and meadows where I became dedicated to helping public green spaces achieve their full potential for the enjoyment of the community.

I have quickly learned how vital Lakeshore Park is to the City of Knoxville.  Our team is working hard to ensure the safety, cleanliness and use of your park. We are also so thankful for charitable donations that have helped us grow and our hard-working volunteers who have pulled a lot of weeds.

Thank you for making my wife and I feel welcome in Knoxville and Lakeshore Park.  I look forward to seeing you in the park.

Russell Riddell
Director of Park Operations

 To learn more about the Conservancy, what they do, and how they care for the Park, visit the About the Conservancy page.

The Conservancy team is a small but mighty group of individuals- Meet the team


Park Alerts Stay in the know!  Here one can find updates about the Park and the Conservancy. These alerts can range from safety messages, job …