Alaskan Way Viaduct contest winners revealed: Rolling together through Seattle’s past and present culture clash

Dave Ross (right), Ken Schram (middle), and Alaskan Way Viaduct
Replacement Program Administrator Linea Laird (left) made up the
judging panel for the “One Last Shot” viaduct contest
By guest blogger Hilary Bingman

Excitement was in the air as Dave Ross, Seattle’s KIRO-FM radio talk show host, and Ken Schram, KOMO Newsradio host, joined Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program Administrator Linea Laird to decide who was going to win a rare opportunity to spend 30 minutes on a vacant Alaskan Way Viaduct during the structure’s nine-day closure.

The panel of judges immediately set to work reading through the top 15 submissions, out of nearly 600 submitted to the program. What were they looking for when selecting a winner? They wanted to find the ultimate idea that was creative and unique, fun and family-friendly, and significant for the entrant and our city.

Of course, a lot of contest entries fit perfectly into these categories, but didn’t make it into the top list because they weren’t feasible. Some of the favorites – rolling down the viaduct in the P.I. Globe, making the world’s longest slip-and-slide, setting up a drive-in movie for the waterfront, hosting an Oktoberfest party, competing in an ultimate dodgeball contest, and having a campout to roast marshmallows, to name a few.

With an incredible assortment of entries, debate between the judges broke out immediately. Should we pick the proposal to fly stunt kites, set up model trains, or organize a flash mob? How about the ideas to host a prom, choreograph a Bollywood film, paint a huge mural, or set a world record for the most espresso shots produced? The judges pointed out that they didn’t want to pick an idea that was “Seattle safe.” The contestant field was narrowed down to two without a clear winner. Ultimately, the judges came to a solution - select two winners!

The Rat City Rollergirls bout at Key Arena
The Rat City Rollergirls, members of the first flat-track roller derby league in the Northwest, won with their proposal to speed skate and “bout” along several blocks of the viaduct. Jenn Harowicz, a mother and work-at-home graphic designer known on the track as “Know Mercy,” secretly submitted the idea without telling her teammates. "What attracted me to derby was that it's women of all ages and walks of life. Each skater has a life outside of derby," she said. Jenn drives on the viaduct daily and made a compelling case in her entry for wanting a unique memory of skating on it with her Rollergirls.

Dave Eady (center bottom row) and his fellow
 Cossacks perform motorcycle stunts in Seattle
The second winner – Seattle Cossacks – will use their 30 minutes to perform stunts on the viaduct with their vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Dave Eady, a life-long member of the group, has been performing stunts on his motorcycle for the last 39 years. He submitted his entry because of the historical significance the group and viaduct share. The Seattle Cossacks formed in 1938 and have been taking part in transportation history ever since. The Cossacks were the first to lead the opening of the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge in the 1940’s, and also led the opening of the Spokane Street Bridge. When notified he had won, Dave became overwhelmed by emotion. “I’m 70 years old, so just looking at me you wouldn’t think I could do something like this, but I can,” he said. Dave wants to share the winning time with his team to say a special farewell to the historical structure.

Both of the winning groups are homegrown locals who represent the unique flavor of Seattle. Following their 30 minutes, they will help kick off a viaduct demolition celebration event by performing on the SR 99 off-ramp at 1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 22.

Want to know about some of the “One Last Shot” entries that didn’t win? The nearly 600 submissions included:

  • Love is in the air in Seattle – 24 proposals, weddings, and anniversaries
  • Celebrating in style – 19 birthdays and parties
  • The city’s got a vibrant music scene – 29 bands to perform, including many songs written about the viaduct
  • Seattle’s got moves – 29 dance groups
  • City Iconography – 66 photo shoots