Pathway of Lights Glows Across Generations of Greenlakers

by Katie McVicker
Photo and story courtesy of Seattle Parks Department

The city is dark. The air is cold. But Green Lake Park is aglow.

Since the 1980s, on the second Saturday of December, neighbors, families and tourists have celebrated the Pathway of Lights. Guests are invited to stroll the path lined with luminaries, listen to sounds of the season and enjoy refreshments.

This year, the Pathway of Lights will take place from 4:30-7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 12 at Green Lake.

The idea was brought to Green Lake Community Center by a woman who was inspired after seeing a similar event on a trip to the southwestern U.S. The name was coined through a community contest. Despite its growth, the event has maintained its intimate, community feel as the same volunteers and families return every year.

In its inaugural year, luminaries encircled only the community center and the event was marked with horse-drawn hayrides. Throughout the years the event continued to expand. While guests used to light the luminaries by passing candles to one other, large community groups are now needed to help with set up. Local performers and artists are stationed around the lake to entertain walkers.

Green Lake Advisory Council Member Sue Ruuska and her husband have been involved with Pathway of Lights since its inception. Sue, known as the “bag lady,” and her husband, the “sand man,” would put together the paper bags and sand and their daughters, then 8 and 11, would run the luminaries around the path. Now, Sue can be spotted at the event with her 3-year-old granddaughter. “I like to watch people come with funky costumes and decorate themselves with glow lights,” Sue said. “Some people come with candles, some people bring their kayaks decorated in lights and others come with a group of friends and start caroling.” Participants can bring their own candles or lights to add to the festive ambiance and as always, newcomers are encouraged to start their own traditions.

Pathway of Lights is a food drive benefiting FamilyWorks and participants are asked to bring non-perishable food items if they are able.

Special thanks to event sponsors Green Lake Masonic Lodge, PCC Natural Markets and Seattle City Light. – See more here.

If you have any questions please call Karen Galt, Seattle Parks and Recreation, at 206-684-0370.

Write a Letter for Green Lake Alum Treatment!

Scum along Green Lake shoreline

Photo by Green Lake resident Garet Munger

Toxic algae blooms caused Green Lake to be closed to all water contact activities during the fall of 2012, 2013 & 2014. This year it was closed for swimming in September 2015.

In 2004 the lake was treated with alum and the water remained clear for nearly a decade. We understand that funding for another alum treatment is in the City’s 2016 budget.

Friends of Green Lake asks you to PLEASE WRITE to the City Council, Mayor Ed Murray, and the Parks Superintendent to thank them for including the funding for another Green Lake clean up in the budget and ask them to be vigilant that the alum treatment funding be retained through the final budget approval process this week. In your letter be sure to let them know how you use and value Green Lake and that Green Lake serves people of all income levels.

City Council:
Parks Superintendent:
Mayor: To contact the Mayor, go to, scroll down to the Mayor’s photo on the right and click on “Contact” for the contact form.

Funding for Only a Green Lake Study was included in the 2015 City Budget

For three straight years, toxic algae blooms have kept swimmers and dogs out of the water in late summer and fall. Last November, the City Council Budget Committee approved $300,000 to fund these studies in the 2015 budget, but treatment was postponed until spring 2016. Friends of Green Lake is hopeful the promised Green Lake water treatment will be accomplished in March, 2016.

Green Lake Events & Meetings

Friends of Green Lake
FOGL meets at 7:00 PM on the fourth Tues each month:

The Hearthstone
Board Room, main floor
6720 E. Green Lake Way N


Green Lake Community Council
GLCC meets at 7:00 PM in The Hearthstone Chapel (address above) on the second Wednesday of odd numbered months. Visit website Green Lake Community Council

Agenda for FOGL Meeting November 24, 2015

  • Room opens for socializing and conversation at 6:45 PM
  • Call to Order and Introductions
    • Richard Fleming, President
  • Green Lake Plantings and Vegetation
    • Barbara de Caro, Resource Conservation Coordinator, Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation
  • Recent Events at Green Lake Park
    • Richard Fleming
  • Odd Year Nomination and Election of Officers
    • Vice President
    • Corresponding Secretary
    • Treasurer
  • WebMaster’s Report
    • Ellen Hewitt
  • Treasurer’s Report
    • Gayle Garman
  • Adjourn
  • No December Meeting
  • Next Meeting January 26, 2016

Friends of Green Lake (FOGL) is a non-profit group in Seattle, Washington, whose mission is to ensure a healthy Green Lake for wildlife and recreation, for today and tomorrow.