What a roller coaster ride for Valley Mall in Union Gap.  Within about a 48 hour period the Mall goes from National Award Winner for a mask-up program to a backdrop as a gang shooting homicide crime scene.  Momma never said there would be days like this!

On Friday, Valley Mall received a national award for a mask-up encouragement program featuring a major marsupial!   The Mall picked up the prestigious Silver Maxi Award from The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) for its “Kevin the Koala” mask-up education campaign.   Kevin the Koala, an animal wonder from down-under, asks valley residents to wear masks to help local businesses re-open. Mall spokespersons say, "The recent surge in the Delta variant is making Yakima’s “mask-up initiative” even more timely, so Kevin will continue to work hard to keep residents safe in his fun and endearing way, including vaccination events."

Valley Mall's win starts with looking to Australia for inspiration and encouraging people to “KOALA-FY with Kevin the Koala” so the county could move into the next phase under the Governor’s re-opening plan.  Jacob Butler, marketing manager for Valley Mall says, “We even hired Daniel Assetta from the Australian cast of Hamilton, as voice-over talent!”

Campaign Highlights

  • Valley Mall is in the heart of Yakima County, where 63% of the population are essential workers, all at higher risk for contracting and spreading COVID-19.
  • Bring mascot Kevin the Koala to life so the kids can meet and greet safely.
  • Offer space, education, testing and community mask pickups.
  • Create a free, drive-through pick-up community program for kids and adults.

So Friday 8/20/21 Valley Mall celebrates the national recognition for creating a fun and effective community anti-COVID campaign but by Sunday afternoon the Mall received some unfortunate and unwanted intense local attention.

Sunday, Union Gap police officers were called to the mall at about 4:30 PM after getting a report of shots fired between two groups of rival gang members outside the mall

Union Gap Police say a man on a sidewalk outside who was struck and killed is being described as "an innocent person shopping at the mall"

The Union Gap Chief of Police says there was an "altercation" earlier in the day that lead to the deadly shooting between gang members.   The mall had nothing to do with the incident.

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