By PAULA CHRISTINE SCHULER and CRISTINA CARREON
Bicycles for two, strollers, roller blades, tall bicycles, skinny bicycles, cops on bikes, kids on trikes, walkers, joggers, and four-footed furry partners were all there Oct. 7 for Síclovía.
All these and more covered Broadway from Alamo Plaza all the way to Mahncke Park, near Witte Museum.
Traffic was blocked off to create public play space for anyone who wanted to join in the fun.
Parents took photos of their kids in the greener-than-usual grass. Toddlers grabbed chalk and drew pretty pictures for tired parents. Groups of youth went jogging together.
Doggies displayed all the latest canine warm wear. Three women bicyclists wore smiles and bright party costumes.
Bicycle technicians helped and advised riders of all ages.
Women and a few men danced away the cold at the Alamo Plaza. Runners were already on their journey when sponsors, city leadership and volunteers took the stage at Alamo Plaza for the opening ceremony.
The weather was crisp and cloudy as the event kicked off at 10 a.m.
Joey Palacios, former radio station KSYM 90.1 FM program director and now a reporter with Texas Public Radio station KSTX, said, “Síclovía is why I learned how to ride a bike! I’ve lost 30 pounds because of Síclovía.”
Fencing bronze medalist Kelley Hurley and Silver Stars basketball player Sophia Young both watched as Mayor Julián Castro kicked off Síclovía by saying, “Are y’all ready to have some fun today?”
Castro took special time to recognize student ambassadors from the Mayor’s Fitness Council, a diverse group of more than 20 youth.
“We know that in our community we have so many folks, people who struggle with diabetes,” he said. “We want to empower people to do something healthy.”
Dr. Thomas Schlenker of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District said the event began as the mayor’s vision is finally coming to fruition.
Schlenker recognized SA2020 and said, “It was gratifying to have this support.”
SA2020 is an effort by the mayor’s office to gather grassroots citizen volunteers in the city to express their opinions on where they want the city to go. SA2020 has been going for at least two years and is instrumental in how city hall moves forward with city change.
“This is unusual in my experience to have elected officials focused on health,” Schlenker said.
Sandra Morander, CEO of Greater San Antonio YMCA, said the idea came from Bogota, Colombia, where cíclovía has been a tradition for about 30 years.
She said funding to launch the local event came from federal stimulus funds.
The mayor and other city leaders intended to create a sustainable event, she said.
The city turned to YMCA, who partnered with the city in sponsorship in 2011.
Geoff Crabtree, chairman of the board of YMCA of Greater San Antonio, said, “The Y is all about change.”
He said the YMCA is the largest provider of fitness in San Antonio. The YMCA’s goals are to continue to develop youth, he said.
In 2012, YMCA assumed leaderships of the event and brought in grocery chain H-E-B as another sponsor.
The activities started at 10:30 a.m. in the morning in parks, which were dubbed Reclovias for the occasion, for exercise and refreshment.
The Zen Reclovia at Mahncke Park kicked off with a yoga class with the help of a few frigid volunteers from the throng.
The West Side Family YMCA had a small, raised platform set up for classes while a DJ station put out good vibes in the cold, fall weather, as people exercised or strolled through Mahncke Park.
Amy Flores, a sales representation for Bike City, said, “This is Bike City’s first Síclovía and it’s a great opportunity to get out and meet people at a free event with free stuff.”
Bike City, as well as other vendors sold food, drinks, and apparel in Mahncke Park.
Body flow instructor Laura Bustos said, “Síclovía is significant because it’s a car-free, family-friendly event. We are giving free demos of physical activities to help people with living well.”
The body flow exercise is a combination of Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates, which utilizes stretching and controlled breathing to relax and work out the body.
Walking south along Broadway Street, people rode eccentric bikes and skateboards, but there were also walkers, roller-bladers and joggers leisurely passing red streetlights where traffic would be filing past to get home any other day.
For more information, visit Siclovia.org.