CHICAGO, IL â€” Chicagoland residents are invited to enjoy the return of Open Streetsâ€”Chicagoâ€™s free pedestrian playgroundâ€”on Saturday, Sept. 8 in the Loop and Sunday, Sept. 16 in Wicker Park/Bucktown from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. each day. Expanding to two events this year, Open Streets will close streets to car traffic and open them up for healthy recreation including biking, running, yoga classes, skate parks, interactive playgrounds and climbing walls.
During the five-hour event on Sept. 8, Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA), in partnership with Active Transportation Alliance (Active Trans), will transform 13 blocks in the Loop into the ultimate 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 from Division to Western Avenues.
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 â€œCicloviaâ€ event every Sunday of the year.
â€œWe are looking forward to inviting people to the Loop once again to experience two of Chicago’s world-renowned destinationsâ€”State Street and Millennium Parkâ€”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,â€ said Adam Burck, Executive Director of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce. â€œThis 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:Â
- 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.
â€œBuilding on last yearâ€™s great success of Open Streets on State Street, weâ€™re expecting two wonderful events that will be enjoyed by many thousands of people,â€ said Active Trans Open Streets Director Julia Kim. â€œWeâ€™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.â€
Event organizers are grateful to the Illinois Center for Broadcasting, Walgreens and REI for their generous support of Open Streets events.
Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) is a member-based civic organization that represents Chicagoâ€™s most dynamic mixed-use districtâ€”the Loopâ€”and advocates for the rapidly growing central business area. CLA is focused on promoting and uniting Loop businesses and organizations to support one another in creating a vibrant, flourishing Loop where people live, work and play. For more information, visit www.chicagoloopalliance.com.
Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber Special Service Area (WPBSSA) is a member-based organization that serves as a cornerstone of the Wicker Park and Bucktown commercial districts, advancing the financial goals of neighborhood businesses through the creation of a dynamic economic climate, increasing the neighborhoodâ€™s visibility and viability, and encouraging profitable relationships within the community. For more information, visit www.wickerparkbucktown.com.
The Active Transportation Alliance (Active Trans) is an advocate for bicyclists, pedestrians and public transit riders in the Chicago region. Active Trans encourages transportation that promotes health, recreation, social interaction, equity, environmental stewardship and resource conservation. For more information about the Active Transportation Alliance, please visit www.activetrans.org.