Pie in the Park represents Kingston community values | Village Green Update

If you attended the ninth annual Pie in the Park event Aug. 10, you experienced Kingston in its purest form.

Throughout the experience, I kept hearing, “Only in Kingston.”

If you are hearing about Pie in the Park for the first time, here it is in a nutshell: it’s a free, come-as-you-are event in the Village Green Park. Families with young children arrive first for pie-themed games like a pie-eating contest and pie walk.

Later, everyone else shows up (many with the family dog) to connect with friends, taste pie and bid on silent auction items. This year, somewhere near 300 people attended.

The pie, ice cream, and food is free — donation only. All is made possible by Mimi Smith-Danielson, The Ale House, and Cup &Muffin.

Then comes the main event — the pie auction.

Local financial manager Clint Boxman serves as auctioneer. Firefighters from North Kitsap Fire &Rescue, in true Vanna White style, exhibit the pies. The top bidder gets to pick their two favorite pies to take home. That honor went for a mere $5,400 — that’s right, $5,400! And so it went, auctioning off 26 pies made by local bakers. The total take was nearly $40,000.

The money raised goes toward paying off the remaining debt of the $9 million community center that houses the Boys &Girls Club, Kingston branch library, and Senior Center. It has all been raised by the community!

If you live in Kingston, this all seems normal, but it is not normal for a rural community to join with their neighbors on a decade-long journey to raise this kind of money with the goal of connecting and strengthening the community.

Some kids who watched as their parents paid $1,000 for a pie might have been thinking it was time to have Dad evaluated for making irrational business decisions. However, I would argue that, in fact, those kids are thinking this is what a community does when there is a need bigger than them.

So, the hundred or so kids playing games at the park are growing up in families and in a community where you roll up your sleeves and do your part. That is Kingston’s pipeline of next-generation leaders.

The 20-year-old friend of my daughters, who came to volunteer, commented, “I didn’t know places like this existed. I want to live here someday!” as she scrolled through Kingston Zillow listings on her smartphone.

Only in Kingston.

— Daniel Johnson is executive director of the Village Green Foundation. Contact him at danielrjohnson4@gmail.com.

Daniel Johnson / Contributed

Daniel Johnson / Contributed