Parking Problems Predicted for National Cherry Festival



Parking will be at a premium in Traverse City this weekend, with the beginning of the National Cherry Festival.

9 & 10’s Bill Froehlich found out what’s different this year, and what leaders are suggesting you do to avoid the predicted parking pandemonium.

New Traverse City resident Trevor Sowders has had a rough introduction to parking in the downtown area. “I have no idea where I’m going to park or what I’m going to do with my vehicle.”

The parking problems are about to get worse in the downtown area. Those of us who live here know it’s already tough, even without the summer festival traffic. Sowders says, “So far parking has been really bad, frankly. I’ve been able to find parking spaces every once in a while and that’s as good as it gets.”

Even the Cherry Festival crew feels the pain. Executive Director Kat Paye says, “There’s definitely the pressure downtown to be able to park. We feel it as well. A lot of our staff and volunteers we’re highly encouraging biking, walking, any other mode of transportation you can use to get down to the festivities is highly recommended.”

Traverse City typically closes several surface parking lots for the Cherry Festival. But 85 extra drivers will feel the pinch this year with “Lot S” on the west end of Front Street closing down too. It’s privately owned, and while developer could sell spaces next week they’re planning for new construction to start later in July.

Colleen Paveglio with the DDA says, “We will be losing 85 parking spaces and so we’ve really worked to reconfigure parking in the downtown for the time being. And we’ve looked at underutilized parking spaces at meters. In the grand scheme 85 is actually a lot. We manage about 3000 parking spaces but there’s about 5,000 employees downtown.”

With 3,000 parking spots and 30,000 visitors per day you’ll need to travel in groups of ten if you want to guarantee a parking spot. I’d have to carpool with the Four Tops and the five Spinners to be sure I get close to all the Cherry Festival action.

The parking decks are great options – and the DDA says with 8th street under construction they expect they’ll get used even more, especially the Old Town Parking Deck, which usually has empty spaces. BATA is again offering free park and ride shuttle bus service, and there’s even a valet service for bike riders, who can also park at new bike racks throughout downtown.

Paye says, “We highly recommend riding your bike, walking, we have a great bike valet in the open space with Norte, they’ll park your bike from 10am-11pm daily. And we have BATA running great shuttles on the Bayline from 7am-1am.” Paveglio adds, “All of those opportunities and alternative modes of transportation are out there, and this is a great time to give them a try.”

For tips on where to park and how to get around, check out the National Cherry Festival Parking Guide

Categories: National Cherry Festival