Instead of being a means to get someplace else, the parkway became the place to be, a tree-lined plaza where residents gathered for a Sunday stroll. Neighbors sat on guardrails and chatted; people walked their dogs. Skateboarders and in-line skaters glided down the road and children raced between the lane lines.” (The People’s Freeway, Marcus Renner).
20 years after the inaugural ArroyoFest – a grassroots ciclovia led by Occidental College staff in 2003 – the 110 Arroyo Seco Parkway is scheduled to once again be filled with people on foot, bike, skate and other modes of micro-mobility.
By Wesley Reutimann
If you were there on June 15, 2003, you were one of the few who have ever experienced the almost 100-year-old parkway outside of a motor vehicle. Originally designed by renowned landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and Harland Bartholomew, the now national historic byway was intended to be a leisurely, scenic drive between Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles. The corridor initially featured verdant plantings and landscaping to frame the adjacent Arroyo Seco river and hillside vistas. The parkway was also supposed to be just one element of a diverse transportation system which included trolleys, trains, buses, and walkable neighborhoods.
Marcus Renner, Pasadena resident and one of a handful of organizers behind the first ArroyoFest, is among those excited for its return:
I’m looking forward to ArroyoFest this month because I’ll have the chance to feel what the Arroyo Seco’s canyon was like before cars, when the road through Highland Park was still a rocky path and you had a chance to appreciate the hills and curves and leaning sycamores. I’m also looking forward to seeing a new generation come to understand and appreciate the vision of the Arroyo as a singular ribbon of parkland stretching from the L.A. River to the mountains, a vision that stretches back into the 19th century. While I’m out on parkway on the 29th, I’m going to be thinking about all the neighbors and neighborhood groups that have banded together across decades to keep that vision alive and how it’s our responsibility to keep dreaming that vision forward into the future.”
ArroyoFest 2023 will be very similar to the original event, with a few notable differences. Similarities include the event route, which will once again open the parkway from Avenue 26 in Lincoln Heights to Glenarm Avenue in Pasadena, connecting the Arroyo Seco communities of Cypress Park, Highland Park, Hermon, and South Pasadena. The event time frame will again be a 4-hour window, with a slightly later start time to account for a later sunrise in late October.
Differences include providing separated space for pedestrians and wheeled devices. For the 2023 event southbound lanes of the 110 Parkway will be reserved for pedestrians including walkers, runners, wheelchair users, and families with strollers and young children. Northbound lanes will be reserved for people on bikes, scooters, skateboards, and other wheeled devices, including Class II/III e-bicycles, e-scooters, and similar electric-assist devices. There will also be a new, one-mile leg of the route on local City streets, connecting the on/off ramps at Orange Grove in South Pasadena to Mission Street, the South Pasadena Metro station, and Garfield Park. Attendees are also welcome to access the event route from on/off-ramps between Avenue 26 and Glenarm Avenue.
Also new for 2023 will be easy public transit access thanks to Metro’s newly extended A-line, the longest light-rail line in the United States. The Metro Rail A Line will provide direct service to the event route via the Lincoln Heights / Cypress Park and South Pasadena stations, and easy access via the Filmore and Southwest Museum stations. Children 4 or under ride free on Metro, and bikes and scooters may be brought on board at no extra cost. Visit metro.net for more information regarding transit options.
Three activity hubs – Lincoln Heights, Highland Park, South Pasadena – along the route will feature live music and performances, family-friendly art activities, community-based organizations, and more. The Highland Park Hub will play host to this year’s Lummis Day Festival, providing extended entertainment and cultural offerings until 3pm. The South Pasadena Hub will remain open until 2pm and feature an e-bike demo/rental zone, free carnival games, and over two dozen local community booths. And the Lincoln Heights Hub will offer food trucks, live music, free bike repair, and serve as the finish line for those participating in the 10k fun run.
Several hundred volunteers are needed to help stage the event. Benefits to volunteering include a custom ArroyoFest t-shirt, a special ArroyoFest Metro TAP Card (only available to attendees), free raffle tickets, food/refreshments, and an invitation to a special post-event party with the event’s larger than life mascot, Gabe the Sasquatch. More information on how to volunteer here.
The 20th anniversary ArroyoFest is made possible by the Metro Open Streets program, in partnership with ActiveSGV and the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, as well as the Cities of Los Angeles, Pasadena, and South Pasadena. More event info can be found at 626goldenstreets.com.
From 7:00 - 11:00 am on Sunday, October 29th, 626 Golden Streets - ArroyoFest will re-open the historic Pasadena parkway to pedestrians.
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