It’s 12:02 PM on a bright Sunday afternoon in Austin and 6th Street is completely empty of cars, trucks and delivery vans. It’s a little disconcerting at first – you’re not used to seeing 6th Street like this in the middle of the day. But as you turn a corner and near I-35, you see a group of kids and adults on yoga mats trying out a frog pose.
Although festivals shut down 6th frequently, the street usually isn’t quite this empty. For VIVA! STREETS Austin, that’s precisely the point. City Council Member Chris Riley, often a proponent of safer transportation options, has been a huge supporter of the event. “Ciclovías have been held regularly in Latin America since the 1970s, and our burgeoning bike and fitness culture makes VIVA! STREETS a perfect fit for Austin.”
The idea behind the event was to build community by transforming a street into public space and encourage active living through recreation, fitness activities and healthy food options. “I think this is a great way to help Austinites view streets as more than simply automobile right-of-ways,” explained Council Member Riley.
Sunday October 26th, from 10 AM-3 PM, marks Austin’s third year of holding the festival. But this will be the first time the festival expands beyond 6th Street. This year the city will also shut down vehicle traffic along a 2-mile route in the Mueller community in Northeast Austin. This will also be the first time VIVA! STREETS is held during the much cooler month of October, as opposed to the typical May celebration.
Things to Do During VIVA! STREETS
So what exactly are you supposed to do with your newfound freedom on the streets? Whatever you want! VIVA! STREETS was created to bring the community together and encourage fun outdoor activities in a safe environment. Last year event sponsors like HEB brought along a huge bouncy obstacle course and REI sponsored a rock wall. Smaller companies set up stations for yoga, hula-hooping, or lessons on how to juggle.
This year, the planned activities include Zumba, dodgeball, street chess and of course it wouldn’t be a festival in Austin without live music. But the underlying point is to get creative and do whatever you want in a huge makeshift playground.
Council Member Chris Riley put it best, “By inviting everyone to enjoy healthy, fun activities in the street, we’re encouraging Austinites to rethink the way we interact with the urban environment, and highlighting the role our public spaces can play in strengthening communities and raising our quality of life.” Just go out there and have fun!
Learn more on the VIVA! STREETS website.
What has been your favorite activity to do at VIVA! STREETS in the past?