Open Streets is coming to SoKno on Sunday, Oct. 29, and bringing a Halloween feel with it.
Hosted by Bike Walk Knoxville, the not-so-spooky event will take place 2-6 p.m.
“We’ve been north, west, east and now we’re coming south,” Lindsey Kimble, program manager for Bike Walk Knoxville and coordinator for Open Streets Knoxville, told members of the Old Sevier Community Group, who had nearly packed the library at South Knoxville Elementary School for their August meeting.
“This is a great opportunity to promote what is happening in South Knoxville.”
Dr. Caroline Cooley, executive director of BWK, explained the concept to those unfamiliar with it.
“It’s where we close the streets to all traffic on a Sunday afternoon for up to about a mile or more than a mile so people can just come out and play in the streets,” said Cooley. “It promotes physical activity, social interaction and really highlights local businesses that are along that route.”
Kimble said that the Gay Street Bridge would be closed for the event, and people would be encouraged to park in downtown garages and walk or bike across the bridge to Council Place, where they will turn left and then proceed along Sevier Avenue. The Open Streets area will extend to the intersection with Island Home Avenue and head north at Foggy Bottom to Suttree Landing, which will be the last link in a loop.
“It’s spread out,” said Kimble. “The idea is, there is not a beginning or an end.
“It’s a really exciting route, and I think it’s going to be tons of fun.” She said participants would be encouraged to embrace a Halloween theme.
Sevier Avenue has been a focal point for redevelopment in recent years, and Kimble and Cooley said it’s a perfect space to locate Open Streets. Businesses along the route can promote themselves, and other businesses, organizations, neighborhoods, community groups and performers can also participate.
“In order to participate in the event, you have to provide an activity,” Kimble explained. “It’s free for businesses on the route.”
Businesses that don’t have a storefront on the route can pay a $100 fee to have a presence and present a hands-on, all-ages activity. Nonprofit groups need pay only $50. Performers can participate at no cost, and there will be a performance area.
Attending the event is free. The previous Open Streets events have averaged about 5,000 attendees.
“I anticipate this would be fairly large,” said Kimble.
Cooley said the city has been a solid partner in the events. She said they usually have about 25 police officers on site, along with other first responders.
“Police officers have said it’s one of the most pleasant events they’ve ever attended because people don’t throw down trash, they’re not drunk and everybody’s cheerful,” said Cooley. “It’s a lot of fun.”
It’s also very low impact.
“By 1:30 the street is closed,” she said. “By 6:30 you wouldn’t know it had ever been there.”
An official map will be posted closer to the event. Sponsorship opportunities also are available. Info: openstreetsknoxville.com