Thousands bring city's streets to life

Inaugural event aimed at getting people out

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor


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Kaiser Permanente provided $20,000 for Sunday Streets Alive. Grants and sponsorships provided some of the money and the city of Vancouver and Clark County Public Health each provided $5,000. The budget was about $69,000.

The city of Vancouver’s Jennifer Campos said there now is a prototype for a large street event any neighborhood or community can copy.

Thousands turned out for Sunday Streets Alive in Vancouver, where there was fun and positive messages at seven stations on a 4.2-mile route.

It was a first effort at a five-hour giant street fair with the emphasis on getting out, exercising and learning more about your neighbors and community.

While the raves spilled in from all seven venues, some motorists heading into downtown were unaware of the event and frustrated by the roadblocks.

"I like it. It's cool," 10-year-old Gracie Bryant said of the fun at John Ball Park. Vendors and activity spots, including Circus Cascadia, were hopping.

"This is an awesome spot for kids," said Hailey Health, who works for Vancouver-Clark Parks & Recreation. "We have 250 volunteers out today."

Soren Roth, who lives near John Ball Park, said his family of four loved the energy at the park. "There are lots of things you don't usually get to see," he said.

Will Stewart and Sam Battaglia were jamming at the HiCap Records vendor booth at the park.

"We had them doing beat-match jumping jacks," Stewart said. "Kids had to jump in time."

At the Marshall Community Center, Wade Leckie had set up an obstacle course for bicyclists. He is the owner of Bad Monkey Bikes, Board and Skate.

The six-obstacle course including a curb jump "is designed for slow-riding techniques," Leckie said. His booth offered bike repair and he noted, "I've had to change two flats and tune a guy's spoke."

Lafa Baker, 36, of the Edgewood neighborhood, tried the obstacle course on her Ironhorse mountain bike.

"It was challenging. I felt the sweat beading up on my brow," Baker said.

Nearby, the Eschman family of east Vancouver was about to head from Marshall to another activity area.

Julia Eschman and 5-year-old Eliza were on bikes and Shane Eschman was on his bike pulling 2-year-old Emory in a bike trailer.

"It's awesome," Julia said of streets alive. "I'm really surprised at how many volunteers and people have come out."

At 3:20 p.m., the Blues Cruizer band was belting out tunes in Uptown Village, another activity spot.

Just a house off Main Street on 23rd Street, homeowner Marilynn Jones was asked if her closed street and the noise of the street fair were aggravating her.

""This is great. We need more of this," Jones said, standing on the porch of her 1912 house.

She and husband Scott moved from Salmon Creek four years ago to the Hough neighborhood.

"We love the atmosphere and the arts and the antiques," she said. "And the lights and the hanging baskets."

The biggest challenge

Jennifer Campos, a senior planner for the city of Vancouver, she heard lots of good about the event with its nearly 70 vendors at the seven locales.

Any downside?

"The biggest challenge was trying to coordinate the traffic control in downtown," she said. Two police officers and 23 flaggers from the city's public works department were on duty.

Campos was upbeat, saying, "It was just amazing to see how many people were out in the streets. "I think the best part was seeing all of the families and all the different modes they were using to get around. Bikes, skateboards, longboards, roller blades, strollers."

Tricia Mortell of Clark County Public Health, another sponsor, echoed Campos.

"Everyone thought it was perfect for getting their kids out, getting grandma out, getting the dogs out."

It was a y'all come event and the day started with a parade sponsored by the Arc of Southwest Washington.

"I'd say we had about 100 people, including two llamas and some interesting bikes and someone dressed up like a bee," said Michael Piper, executive director of the organization. "We had people of all abilities, children and adults alike."

He said Sunday Streets Alive was "positive on many levels" and said it deserved an "A-plus."