Communities that are active are more vibrant, productive and healthy. This is the basis behind Dakota Medical Foundation’s “StreetsAlive!”, a free event that celebrates the joy of walking, running, biking, skating or strolling down an open street. An area will be blocked off, and a course set up throughout downtown Fargo-Moorhead on Sunday, Sept. 25 from noon-5 p.m., with activities, vendors, food, art, music and entertainment along the way.
StreetsAlive! began in the Fargo-Moorhead area in 2010 and has gotten bigger and better every year. About 13,000 people attended the two events that were held in 2015. With a third event this year, Sara Watson Curry, Director of Operations for Great Rides Fargo, who organizes the event, hopes for an even better turnout. “Open street festivals are becoming more and more common,” she said. People are also realizing the benefits of going car-free and spending more time being active outdoors. “We’re really focused on putting our best foot forward in health,” she said.
A number of community groups, sports teams, non-profits, and organizations make sure a good time is had by all along the route. In August, there was a station for tumbling and gymnastics, a fencing demonstration, obstacle course for off-road biking, a marching band, science projects, fitness classes and more. Participation Parkway went through Memorial Park in Moorhead, while Activity Alley, with events geared toward children, went past the Horace Mann neighborhood. Participants were even encouraged to take a detour off the usual map to head indoors – through the Moorhead Center Mall – to enjoy music and work by area artists.
“I believe we’re the only street festival to incorporate in the indoor element,” Watson Curry said. This allows participants, even more, enjoyment along the way. “We like to have concentrated areas for people to really slow down and interact,” she added.
While the content of the event shifts each time, many of the same groups show up, willing to make a difference in the community. The August event’s theme was about celebrating teamwork in all its forms. In September, StreetsAlive! will focus on building a compassionate and neighborly community. It will be held at the end of Welcoming Week (Sept. 16-25), a national series of events which brings together immigrants and their new U.S. neighbors in a spirit of unity. Watson Curry plans to set up a cultural corner, celebrating dance, sports, and traditions of various countries.
“It’s really important to welcome these new people to the community,” she said.
StreetsAlive! is inspired by a movement called Ciclovía “cycleway”. During Ciclovía in Bogotá, Colombia, where it was originated, huge stretches of highway are closed down every Sunday afternoon and holiday to allow people to move freely without the use of cars or other motorized transportation. These events have been taking place in Bogotá since 1974 and have spurred a people-powered movement all over the country. While StreetsAlive! is the only open street festival in the Fargo-Moorhead area, thousands take place across the world each year.
“The world doesn’t end when you take a break from cars for a while,” Watson Curry said.
If you should go:
When: Sunday, Sept. 25 from noon-5 p.m.
Where: Downtown Fargo-Moorhead (see map)
To volunteer: Contact Sara Watson Curry at firstname.lastname@example.org
For information: http://www.dakmed.org/cass-clay-alive/streets-alive/
By Kristin Johnson