Open Streets is an event that does exactly what it sounds like. It opens the streets up to foot-traffic and allows citizens to connect with the city in a new way.
The first Open Streets event took place Sunday, May 17 from 11 to 4 p.m., closing off Main Street for 2.8 miles. Citizens were encouraged to walk, jog, bike and skateboard along the route.
“The goal behind it is to get people physically active and to get them engaged and really exploring their community in a new way,” says Brittany Schmoekel, community event coordinator from the City of Akron. “Sometimes when you’re rushing downtown you don’t pay attention to some of the shops that are there. This is a great way to get out and explore those shops.”
The event offers many fun activities, including yoga, zumba, raki and cardio classes, touch-a-truck, a basketball tournament for children ages 8 to 13, putt-putt holes along the route, food trucks and more.
“We are highlighting certain areas with entertainment but it’s really about making your own urban playground experience and making it your own,” Schmoekel says.
Although Open Streets is new to Akron, places from Guatemala to Toronto and London have been doing this for a while, says Schmoekel. She added that studies have shown that cities that do this event more frequently, see more changes in the community.
Event organizers are hoping to put on the next Open Streets event sometime in October.