- Born to run. (Photo: flickr/cogdogblog)
Fort Dupont Park will again host Washington D.C.'s car-free celebration known as Feet in the Street this October 15th. In its third year, the annual event is scheduled to kick off with a good fun run and include everything from face-painters to pumpkins to in-line skates, according to the planners from the National Park Service. The event will last from around 9 a.m. to around 4 p.m.
I became curious about what would be happening this year last week when talking about the concept of a Ciclovía, a recurring series of days where certain urban streets are closed to cars for hours. The notion originated in South America and has become increasingly popular around the world, including in major U.S. cities like Los Angeles and New York. My curiosity about these celebrations led me naturally to read about D.C.'s past two years celebrating Feet in the Street, the closest our capital has come to a Ciclovía. The version initially proposed last year involved a car-free few hours scheduled for every Saturday around K Street during the month of August, but the idea ran afoul of D.C.'s security regulations, which had certain prohibitions involving cross-town traffic, District department of transportation spokesman John Lisle told me.
What ultimately happened in 2010 was a single day of Feet in the Street in Fort Dupont Park on August 28. Multiple partners typically have contributed to the event, but of the two principal hosts, responsibility has begun to shift from DDOT to the National Park Service. "We're in more of a supporting role now," Lisle said when describing the past two years' events and the coming one in store for Feet in the Street 2011.
While not quite a centrally located Ciclovía once envisioned, the coming October 15 event will continue to offer spirited car-free festivity, and as the National Park Service's eastern district manager Julie Kutruff and Fort Dupont park guide Thomas Safranek revealed to me earlier today, there's still much in store for the fall event — the timing of which now allows the NPS to take advantage of school being in session.
"We're starting to feel this is one of the signature events here at Fort Dupont," Kutruff told me. October will be nice and cool, and this year's Feet in the Street will be able to feature some more autumnal dimensions such as pumpkins, which the organizers told me they're hoping to include.
Most activities for the day will be similar to the two years past but Kutruff and Safranek told me they're hoping to consolidate the park space more, so the scheduled happenings will be more centralized at the park's garden and activity center as well as at Randle Circle, where they're also hoping they might be able to hold a farmers' market, pending approval for the right authorities. A fun run will start the day, and the organizers hope to bring in students to participate as much as possible — members of cross-country teams, for instance. The 6th district police station has pledged to give cupcakes to the elementary school that has the most children represented for the run. Feet in the Street also plans to offer free bike rentals via Bike and Roll, one of the event's partners brought in by DDOT. The city's Capital Bikeshare is also expected to be represented, with a table offering information and special attention surrounding the bikeshare station in the Fort Dupont vicinity. Other items on the agenda include face-painting and potentially yoga, I learned. The D.C. department of health will be there to promote exercise and wise eating habits. The organizers even imagine bringing in some of the area's in-line skaters.
The major partners are already on board, according to the National Park Service, and what remains is the need to "fine tune things," as their workers said. They weren't able to describe overall budget costs but estimated that the event costs around $3,000 or so, given the need for park police and features like the rock-climbing wall. Funds come from the NPS in addition to many of their partners and contributors.
Watch the National Park Service website for additional details as summer comes to a close. I'm curious to learn more in the coming months.