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Open Streets Hits Loop and Wicker Park This Year

Lindsey’s blog caught the sights and sounds of Open Streets last year.

Chicago-land residents are invited to enjoy the return of Open Streets—Chicago’s free pedestrian playground—on Saturday, Sept. 8 in the Loop and Sunday, Sept. 16 in Wicker Park/Bucktown from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

If you missed Open Streets last year, reporter Lindsey Romain captured the energy, sights, and sounds from State Street (click image at left.)

Expanding to two events this year, the streets close to car traffic and open  up for healthy recreation including biking, running, yoga classes, skate parks, interactive playgrounds and climbing walls.

Come and see how 13 blocks in the Loop are transformed into an urban playground for all ages: State Street from Lake to Van Buren Streets, and Monroe Street from State Street to Lake Shore Drive.

The Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce (WPBSSA) and Active Trans will bring Open Streets to 15 blocks of Milwaukee Avenue on Sept. 16, spanning Division to Western Avenues.

  • Saturday, Sept. 8 in the Loop 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, Sept. 16 debuts in Wicker Park/Bucktown 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Open Streets events create a safe public space in a car-free setting where communities can connect, families and friends can exercise and play, and businesses can engage with the public. The event is modeled after similar car-free events held in cities around the world from New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, to Bogota, Colombia, which holds its iconic “Ciclovia” event every Sunday of the year.

“We are looking forward to inviting people to the Loop once again to experience two of Chicago’s world-renowned destinations—State Street and Millennium Park—in a new way,” said Laura Jones, Interim Executive Director of Chicago Loop Alliance.

“We’re thrilled to bring Open Streets to Wicker Park and Bucktown,” said Adam Burck, Executive Director of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce. “This event is a natural fit for our community that enthusiastically embraces alternative transportation initiatives. In fact, in 2008, the community created a master plan with goals that include creating bike boulevards and community bicycling events.”

A sampling of the free recreational programming offered to the public at both Open Streets events includes:

  • Mobile skate park: While most public places prohibit skateboarding, Open Streets encourages people of all ages and ability levels to take lessons and watch professionals skate on this street course that includes ramps and a half pipe.
  • Imagination Playground: Children ages 3 and older can explore this award-winning, 500-square-foot movable playground that includes blocks, crates, carts, sand and water. This innovative playground encourages children and their families to pursue healthy, safe, and educational play.
  • Climbing wall and slackline: A portable rock wall will allow participants to improve their climbing skills and the slackline will test their balance.
  • Yoga classes: CorePower instructors will be on hand to lead yoga classes every hour.
  • Dunking booth: Settle the score the old-fashioned way: by sending someone splashing into 500 gallons of water.
  • Games: Four square and relay races are no longer just for the school playground. Get involved in these childhood classics and try out some newer games, including human tic-tac-toe.

“Building on last year’s great success of Open Streets on State Street, we’re expecting two wonderful events that will be enjoyed by many thousands of people,” said Active Trans Open Streets Director Julia Kim. “We’re encouraging people to ride bikes, take a stroll, and embrace the dramatic beauty of Chicago. Open Streets brings communities together to have fun and lead active lifestyles.”

Event organizers are grateful to the Illinois Center for Broadcasting, Walgreens and REI for their generous support of Open Streets events. Active Transportation has links to the action at Open Street events from previous years.


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