• Editor’s Note: This article was first published in our 2022 May Print edition.

      bicyclists filling a street

      626 Golden Streets attendees on Marengo Avenue in South Pasadena, 2022 (Photo – Bryan Zaragoza)

      Five miles of streets were filled with thousands of people on foot, bike, skate, and all manner of wheeled devices in the cities of San Gabriel, Alhambra, and South Pasadena on Sunday, May 1st when 626 Golden Streets returned to town after a three year hiatus.

      By Wesley Reutimann

      The event kicked-off in downtown Alhambra with local dignitaries, including the one and only Gabe the Sasquatch, Mayor of the San Gabriel Mountains, who was framed by an even larger inflatable version of himself. The larger-than-life local elected official didn’t have much to say when asked for comment by Master of Ceremonies Andy Au, but he was nonetheless presented with personal certificates of recognition from Rep. Judy Chu and CA State Senator Anthony Portantino, who recognized the hirsute fellow for his years of work championing safer streets in the San Gabriel Valley.

      A family on scooters and bikes

      A family traverses Main St. Alhambra on bike and scooter between San Gabriel and Alhambra (Photo – Bryan Zaragoza)

      Shortly after 9:00 am the streets began filling with families and people of all ages who came out to enjoy the unique opportunity to experience downtown San Gabriel, Alhambra, and South Pasadena devoid of cars. Attendees bumped into neighbors, classmates, and friends along the route, a novelty after years without similar large community events in the region.

      A woman on podium next to a person dressed in a chubacca suit

      Alhambra Vice-Mayor Adele Andrade-Stadler and Gabe the Sasquatch (on left) speak during the opening ceremony (Photo – Serena Liu)

      The regional event also drew in visitors from further afield. For self-described “Open Streets fanatic” Joni Yung of Santa Monica the appeal was self-evident. “Who wants to spend a day eating, shopping, and playing on car-free streets with friends old and new? I know I do!”

      family with strollers on the street

      A group of families stroll with strollers along Main Street (Photo – Serena Liu)

      Along the route live musical performances provided an eclectic, acoustic backdrop to the quiet streets. These included the San Gabriel High School marching band in the San Gabriel Mission District, a solar-powered DJ at Alhambra Park, and even a rolling cumbia act pulled by a tandem bike, among a dozen plus local artists.

      Musicians biking and playing music

      “Poco Pocho” provided live cumbia music across the event route via electric tandem bike and trailer (Photo – Tanja Reutimann)

      Carnival games, inflatable slides and obstacle courses, climbing walls, giant badminton and chess added to the fun with kids of all ages challenging themselves to feats of strength and agility.

      a child playing giant chess game

      Attendees play giant chess and checkers in the Alhambra Activity Hub (Photo – Serena Liu)

      Several new businesses on Main Street in Alhambra coordinated their official grand opening celebrations to coincide with the open streets event.

      a new restaurant opening

      Grand Opening of Pho Saigon Pasteur on Main Street, Alhambra (Photo – Serena Liu)

      Attendees were also able to garner a sneak peak of the San Gabriel Valley’s soon-to-launch electric bike share program, GoSGV. Made possible by the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, the program will offer monthly subscriptions for electric-assist cargo and commuter style bicycles to San Gabriel Valley residents. Event attendees were able to test ride the program’s bikes in each downtown district and take a survey to pre-register for the program. According to event staff facilitating the test-ride zones, roughly half of those who tried one out had never been on an e-bike before.

      e-bike demonstration inside a tent

      GoSGV E-bike Share Program booth in the San Gabriel Activity Hub (Photo – Serena Liu)

      For Pasadena resident Jessica Bowles-Martinez the event was a hit with her school-aged children. “My kids enjoyed talking to the different booths and learning about the various non-profits and putting stickers on transportation projects in Alhambra they thought were the coolest.” She also noted that another highlight was the double decker electric bus displayed by Foothill Transit. “They loved the view from the second story looking out on the street and were curious to know more about the accessibility features.”

      People checking a new e-bus

      Foothill Transit displayed one of their new, doubledecker, electric buses (Photo – Serena Liu)

      The next 626 Golden Streets – a makeup of “Heart of the Foothills” originally planned for April 2020 – is tentatively scheduled for April 23, 2023 and will connect the cities of San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, and Claremont. More information about upcoming 626 Golden Streets events can be found at: 626goldenstreets.com.

      A man on a wheelchair and a child on a bike behind him

      A family explores Main Street (Photo – Serena Liu)


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      Contributor

        • Wesley Reutimann

          Wesley Reutimann is a Pasadena resident, volunteer organizer of the Pasadena Environmental Advocates (PEAs) Eco-Breakfast, and co-founder of Active San Gabriel Valley (ActiveSGV). He has almost two decades of experience in the non-profit sector with community-based, government, and educational institutions. Wesley's areas of focus include health policy, sustainable mobility, and active communities.

          Colorado Boulevard is your place for informative news and social living for the greater Pasadena area.
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