A Reimagined Waterloo Park Invites the Public to It on CommUNITY Day
It was 10 years in the remaking, but finally the Waterloo redo is ready for you
UPDATED: Due to rising COVID cases and Austin’s re-entry into Stage 5, all CommUNITY Day events and programs have been postponed. However, Waterloo Park will still be open to the public on Aug. 14, starting at 10am.
Hey, remember when there used to be a park between San Jacinto and Red River at 12th Street? Waller Creek ran through it. Live oaks grew everywhere. Used to have Fun Fun Fun Fest, Pachanga Fest, Spamarama, and the Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival there.
If you've been in Austin long enough to remember Waterloo Park, you could be forgiven for thinking the place had gone away. All 11 acres of it have been under lock and key for a full decade while an underground flood-control tunnel for Waller was built (then rebuilt) and the Waller Creek Conservancy – now Waterloo Greenway – spearheaded the park's reinvention.
Well, the work has finally been completed, the fencing has come down, and this weekend the citizens of Austin are being officially welcomed back into Waterloo. Waterloo Greenway and the city have dubbed this Saturday, Aug. 14, CommUNITY Day and packed it with a full schedule of events involving local musicians and performance groups, food vendors, and local dignitaries making the obligatory speeches, all to show off the new public amenity.
When you get there, however, prepare for a shock. The park bears about as much resemblance to the old Waterloo as the skyline now does to the one in 2011. The creek still runs through it, of course, and live oaks are still all around. But the park now has a permanent performance space, the Moody Amphitheater – maybe you've already seen photos of its roof cover of crisscrossing I-beams – with space for up to 5,000 patrons; an intimate alternative to the Moody, Lebermann Plaza, with seating for around 200 on curving rows of limestone blocks; a playscape with a stone slide and log jungle gym; 92,000 plants and more than 500 trees; and the massive intake building that channels floodwaters from Waller Creek down to Lady Bird Lake, which is covered with a 6,500-square-foot mural by Venezuelan artist Arturo Herrera; and a milelong trail that winds from one corner of the park to the other.
Those attractions and others will no doubt be described to you in greater detail by the speakers lined up for CommUNITY Day. Scheduled to speak at the 10am land acknowledgment and ribbon-cutting ceremony are Mayor Steve Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison, and Council Member Kathie Tovo; Congressman Lloyd Doggett; Huston-Tillotson University president and CEO Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette; Moody Foundation Vice Chair Ross Moody; and Waterloo Greenway interim CEO Kathy Miller and board Chair Cotter Cunningham. After that, you'll be free to discover the new sights yourself and also enjoy performances by SaulPaul, the Huston-Tillotson Jazz Ensemble, Ballet Folklórico de Austin, Tiarra Girls, a birds of prey flight showcase, Elsewhere Dance Collective, and more; plus food from Stubb's Bar-B-Q, Flyrite Chicken, Burro Cheese Kitchen, and Taco Baby.
Then at 7pm, the day winds up with the first concert to break in the Moody Amphitheater as a home for music: Taste of Austin, a showcase for 10 local bands and musicians. On the bill are Tameca Jones, Riders Against the Storm, Gina Chavez, Bavu Blakes, Stephanie Bergara, Big Wy's Brass Band, DJ Zetroc, Cynthia Lee Fontaine, Mélat, and Rapid Ric.
If you're concerned about your health – and we all should be – Waterloo Greenway and its partners will follow all COVID-19 safety guidelines. Per city of Austin and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, all guests are encouraged to wear face masks at the CommUNITY Day celebrations.
For those attendees who are driving, parking will be available in the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage, 1201 San Jacinto, and State Garage F. For the full schedule of CommUNITY Day programming, visit waterloogreenway.org.
Waterloo Park Grand OpeningWaterloo Park, 1200 San Jacinto