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Originally published August 10, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 10, 2007 at 2:08 AM

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Neighbors steaming over Gas Works surprise party

Some in the Wallingford neighborhood are grumbling about a private party taking place in a prime space in Gas Works Park this weekend &...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Some in the Wallingford neighborhood are grumbling about a private party taking place in a prime space in Gas Works Park this weekend — but others just want to know who's throwing the bash for 300 of their family and friends.

Several large, white tents resembling the shells of the Sydney Opera House went up earlier this week, followed by lighting and sound equipment. Performers were to rehearse today and Saturday in preparation for the party Saturday night.

And a large head sculpture will be placed today at the top of Kite Hill to create the look of temple ruins, according to Gary Tucker, a spokesman for The Workshop, a Seattle event company responsible for the private party.

The event has already triggered fresh criticism from some neighbors who sued the city last year to stop another event company, One Reel, from holding summer concerts in Gas Works Park. The neighbors, calling themselves Friends of Gas Works Park, said the city hadn't considered the noise, parking and traffic congestion that the summer concerts — which draw thousands — would generate near their homes. One Reel ultimately canceled the concert series.

Parks officials say this event is different: The one-night event will draw some 300 people transported to and from the park in chartered buses. The tents must be gone by Monday.

Joelle Ligon, a parks spokeswoman, said it's not unusual for private groups to rent Gas Works Park for events. This year the park has been the site of 18 weddings, 145 picnics, 12 film sessions and 12 special events, she said.

This party's culmination will be an eight-minute fireworks display at about 9:45 p.m., Tucker said. The display will include a blast from a propane cannon, which will shoot a ball of flame over the gas towers.

While Tucker said he didn't have permission to reveal the cost of the affair or identify the couple hosting it, he said they aren't Hollywood celebrities. But the party will have all the suspense of a Hollywood party — if the hubbub hasn't ruined it.

"It's a surprise party in that the guests do not know that it's there," Tucker said. "They're going to show up somewhere and be whisked somewhere else."

Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103

or sbhatt@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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