In a car-free environment along a 7-mile stretch customarily reserved for motorists, thousands are expected to head to the 110 Arroyo Seco Parkway on Sunday, October 29, for the return of the long awaited ArroyoFest.
It marks the comeback of an event held 20 years ago and will welcome walkers, runners, wheelchair users, families with strollers in the southbound lanes of the famed thoroughfare. Northbound lanes will be open to cyclists, e-bikes, scooters, skateboards and other wheeled devices – yet, no automobiles – as organizers stress the importance of looking out for others during the 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. get-together.
“To ensure a memorable day for all, we ask all event participants to ride in a safe and courteous manner, yielding to slower persons,” said Wesley Reutimann, special programs director for Active San Gabriel Valley, whose organization has spearheaded numerous open streets events, offering a similar experience on city roadways over the years to the one coming up.
Reutimann is part of a small core group of staff from ActiveSGV, which he founded, and the San Gabriel Valley of Governments, working in conjunction with more than a dozen non-profit and public agency partners in recent years in tandem with key sponsor Metro, all making it possible. Of course, hundreds of volunteers will be called on to serve in a variety of roles. (To lend a hand go to: www.626goldenstreets.com/volunteer).
It all takes place on the Pasadena Freeway or “Arroyo Seco Parkway” as it was originally called, known to most as simply the 110 today, but with historical significance. It’s recognized on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places as the first freeway in the western part of the United States, opening December 30, 1940.
Participants can access the freeway in any on/off ramp from Avenue 26 in Lincoln Heights to Glenarm in Pasadena. No registration is required except for those participating in a 7 a.m. 10K running event beginning in South Pasadena and finishing in Lincoln Heights. (To register, go to: www.runthe110.com).
Opening ceremonies for 626 Golden Streets ArroyoFest will be held in South Pasadena on Mission Street, adjacent the Recreation Department building in Orange Grove Park across from Orange Grove Avenue starting at 6:40 a.m. Among the speakers will be South Pasadena Mayor Jon Primuth and Councilmember Michael Cacciotti, who also serves as the vice chair for the South Coast Air Quality Management District. They will be joined by State Senator Anthony Portantino, LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments President Tim Hepburn, and event mascot, “Gabe the Sasquatch,” mayor of the San Gabriel Mountains.
South Pasadena is one of three hubs where those taking part can enjoy musical entertainment, stop to purchase food, and engage in an assortment of other activities. Got a flat? Bike repair and water refill stations will be at the sites, which also include the Lincoln/Cypress and Southwest Museum.
Organizing the ArroyoFest doesn’t come without its challenges, especially from “a permitting perspective,” explained Reutimann. “Thankfully, there was a precedent set for this event 20 years ago by organizers of the original ArroyoFest.”
None of this year’s planning team was around for the first one in 2003, so Reutimann and others are fortunate to draw from knowledge left behind by Professor Bob Gottlieb of Occidental College and Marcus Renner, highly instrumental in the initial effort. The same can be said for now retired Linda Tarra of Caltrans District 7 for lending her expertise to its success.
“ArroyoFest is intended to be a celebration of the diverse communities of the Arroyo Seco, an invitation to explore northeast Los Angeles County like only once before, and an opportunity to connect with organizations active in communities of the Arroyo Seco,” explained Reutimann. “We hope that the 20 anniversary of ArroyoFest will inspire another generation of residents to get involved with local issues and help realize more sustainable and resilient Arroyo Seco neighborhoods.”