New Pop-Up Community Park with "Alice in Wonderland" Theme Opening in Covington

A new pop-up public park is set to open in Covington.

Madhatter Park, a project from the Gateway Community & Technical College Foundation and Renaissance Covington, will open on Thursday, August 2. 

It can be found in the vacant green space between Lee's Chicken and the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky, where the former Madhatter music venue once stood.

The opening event, scheduled from 5 to 10 p.m., will feature lawn games, live music, and food and drinks.

The Gateway Foundation owns the property.

“When Renaissance Covington approached us about activating this space as a park and play area, the Gateway Foundation was very interested in making this an active community space. The Foundation hopes that this space fosters a sense of community by providing an outdoor “play” space in the urban core. We hope that businesses and organizations might make use of the space for outings and gatherings as well,” said Amber Decker, executive director of the Gateway Foundation

Madhatter Park aims to foster community through play, creativity, and urban gardening in its Alice in Wonderland inspired look and design. A team of Renaissance Covington board members designed the space with architects from Hub+Weber.

“The park has so many different elements that it needed a unifying theme to bring them all together," said Erin Graham, project manager at Hub + Weber. "Inspired by the original Madlot on 7th Street and the Mad Hatter club that used to occupy the site, the park developed a whimsical Alice in Wonderland theme.

"The colorful picnic tables sit on a skewed checkerboard of pavers, while rows of sunflowers create a bright backdrop for events and activities. String lights over the tables, raised community garden beds, and changing field paint patterns will create different experiences every time people visit. We even have a Wonderland-inspired wayfinding sign to direct people to local points of interest in this urban core green space.”

Amenities will include:

  • Sports Field Design: Bi-weekly, a field design for baseball, soccer etc. will be mowed by the the Gateway foundation and (eco-friendly) chalked into the grass. 

  • Bike racks.

  • Six picnic tables borrowed from the Northern Kentucky Picnic Table Project, pallet chairs, and bleachers.

  • A croquet set, along with other games and books from the Kenton County Public Library.

“Bringing people together in fun ways and fun spaces helps us be a better community. Public green spaces increase our abilities to celebrate our diversity and rich history," said Julia Allegrini, community engagement manager at the Kenton County Public Library. "The Mad Hatter gives us another place to be the best Covington we can be. The Kenton County Library will be providing things like Whiffle balls and bats, Nerf footballs and frisbees for anyone to sign out from the Library to use in the space (at the Covington branch, lawn games such as such as bocce and croquet are available to check out as well). The green space will also be a perfect place to relax with a good book that can be either checked out or downloaded.”  

Other features:

  • A “Grow WIth Us” artistic mural will be on the north-facing wall of the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky.

  • Landscape design and Alice in Wonderland signage brought to Madhatter Park by Hub+Weber.

  • Additional creative elements pulled from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland will include WayPost Signs, Mushroom and Cheshire Cat art installments.

“The Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky is thrilled to partner with the agencies involved to activate this green space to create a colorful and inviting space in Covington," said Kim Webb, executive director of the Emergency Shelter, which has operated in Covington since 2008. "The mural being painted on the north wall will have a bright sky blue background and sunflowers painted six to six and a half-feet tall to tie into the Madhatter overall design. A local artist, Julie Harwood, will be painting the sunflowers and we will be utilizing Kenton County Detention Center work crew to paint the blue sky.”

Urban garden features:

  • Madhatter features six raised produce beds provided by the Covington Farmers Market and maintained by the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky. The beds are growing local vegetables and anyone in the community is welcome to enjoy these vegetables fresh off the vine.

  • To add beauty, shade, and light, native trees will be planted by Wolf Tree Farms with string lights throughout the trees provided by Renaissance Covington.

“Providing fresh and local food to the community is our mission each week of the Covington Farmers Market. Adding produce beds and a sunflower wall in Madhatter Park helps share that mission. We’re looking forward to neighbors picking a fresh tomato off a Madhatter vine as they enjoy the park,” said Megan Ayers, co-manager of the Covington Farmers Market and grants and programs director at Renaissance Covington.

Madhatter Park will be alcohol-free and will close at dusk. It can be reserved for special functions, reserved through the Gateway website.

The park is temporary and will be maintained through fall 2018 thanks to a generous donation from the Anna T. Milburn Family Foundation and efforts from community partners.

For additional information, visit

-Staff report

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