But, the children, the dogs and the squirrels, were having a great time.
Despite the months of careful planning, rain made much of the difference for adults more than the children, absorbed by the chance to ride their bikes and walk and run and play on the open streets. Guarded diligently by the watchful eyes of the IMPD, who obligingly controlled cross traffic on Meridian Street at Westfield Boulevard and on Illinois Streets, participants had the luxury and freedom from traffic to enjoy the shops and ambiance of pleasant neighborhoods and the scenic water company canal.
One mom came from Brownsburg with her two little under 4 year old daughters just to take in the event.
Shush, we have a street all to ourselves!
So what? Bad weather, empty space, streets free of cars, the adult crowd scared by the nastiest day of all summer, leaving the question: ' what’s the hype, having a street for us only?'.
Well, I witnessed things that normally you don't see in your daily life, I heard things you can only listen to in your imagination.
Have you been present to the silence? Have you ever heard the silence?
Silence is deafening if you can concentrate on it. But it is yet the ambience where all the other noises can be heard. Indy's first Open Streets Event demonstrated exactly that, clearing off the white wall of noise made by cars and getting rid of their physical presence to open up a new space for all kinds of unexpected situations.
I was delighted to see that a celebration, marred by wet and gray blanket, had become the domain for groups of kids, wild and excited by their freedom. Breaking the boundaries of the playground and knocking off the streets was natural and spontaneous for them.
Watching them, I think we, the adults, have missed the opportunity to really experience what it means having a street for people only, something that goes beyond the concept of a street without cars to become experimental vision for a more balanced urban setting.
Sunday, September 29 2013, on Westfield Boulevard, thanks to all those kids, I started to have insights of what our world will be.
One man from Vermont took the time to amble through the open streets coming from his daughter’s home nearby.
While the Department of Health’s Sandy Cummings, diligently conducted a survey of participants for a health study, a concerned public relations man, Dan Henkel of the College of Sports Medicine doted over the event like over an ill child.
Had the event been held the day before, as originally planned, the weather would have been picture perfect. So many events occurring the same Saturday could not all receive the same security, so the day was fatefully changed-to a day without sunshine.
But, the Rock Wall by Renfro had steady business, with properly harnessed youngsters and teens kept the climbing wall occupied through much of the day, and the Riley Hospital helmet giveaway saw a lot of little customers eagerly getting fitted for receiving new bike headgear.
The IndyCog booth had occasional visitors, from newcomers to Indianapolis learning about the on road and off road bike lanes and informing denizens about the cycle trails as well.
As Stacey Hurrle of the Department of Health pointed out, despite inclement weather which discouraged attendance, the kids were having a great time.
This insures a bright and sunny future for the next Open Streets event, as the next generation, it seems, couldn’t have been happier.
Article by Mario Vian