Saturday, February 24 , 2018, 10:15 am | Fair 53º


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Carpinteria Creates Car-Free Zone for Inaugural Open Streets Festival

Sprawling block party of activities, food and music aimed at promoting fitness, exercise and alternative transportation


Sometimes, it’s all right to play in the street.

Under a bright blue sky, that was the case in Carpinteria on Saturday when almost 100 organizations, businesses and community groups gathered to participate in the Open Streets festival.

Residents filled about a mile area between Linden Avenue and Eighth and Ninth streets for a block party-themed event that brought together fitness expos, music, art and health workshops.

According to the organizers of the eight-hour celebration, the novelty of closing streets to vehicle traffic motivates people to use the open space for physical activity.

“The goal is to promote physical fitness, community, biking and walking,” said Kent Epperson, director of Traffic Solutions, a division of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments.

“By encouraging people of all abilities to get out and exercise we help set new healthier habits.”

Epperson said active transportation helps incorporate exercise into people’s daily lives, contributes to less air pollution and eases traffic congestion.

Event-goers were urged to use active forms of transportation and arrive by foot, bike, skateboard, bus or train.

Misch Anderson, a Pasadena resident and Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition member, traveled about two hours using Los Angeles Metro Rail, Amtrak and bicycle.

“This event is impressive,” he said. “It’s great to see people doing outside activities and playing in the street.”

Festival organizers hoped to attract a crowd of 5,000 to 10,000 people.

More than 80 different activities were part of the festivities, including a climbing wall, skateboarding areas, a stage with fitness classes, Zumba, Jazzercise, dancing, yoga, art exhibits, live music, children’s activities, and — of course — lots of skateboarding, biking, jogging and walking.

To get a taste of firefighter training, the Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District set up an obstacle course on the corner of Eighth Street and Walnut Avenue.

Dressed and equipped in firefighting gear, Kristi Nelson and Raquel Zick raced through the course, carried bundles of hose, jumped through a large tire and sprayed water into the back of a truck.

“It’s great to see the community together and promote being healthy,” said Zick, a Carpinteria resident.

In partnership with the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce, Open Streets was co-organized by Global Good Impact, the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition and SBCAG Traffic Solutions, which promotes alternatives to driving.

This year was the first time the event was hosted in Carpinteria.

Communities around the world — including Santa Barbara — have put on similar street festivals.

“It seemed the time was right for Carpinteria,” Epperson said. “After hosting three on Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara, we felt it was time to spread the joy of Open Streets to other areas in Santa Barbara County.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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