Editor's note: The City Celebration and Ciclovia scheduled for this coming Sunday has been postponed until Sunday, October 29, due to high winds and extensive rainfall expected from Tropical Storm Nate.
The Ciclovia has made its way to Tennessee, and the rolling celebration first popularized in Colombia will wheel through six Chattanooga neighborhoods as one of RiverRocks' newest events this weekend.
The free two-wheel family event will allow cyclists of all levels to ride through Chattanooga, stopping at six locations in East Chattanooga: Bessie Smith Cultural Center, South Holtzclaw Avenue, Highland Park Commons, Ridgedale, Orchard Knob Elementary School and Glass Street. The goal is to highlight the area and bring Chattanoogans together to start a dialogue.
"The idea is to give Chattanoogans the opportunity to see the city and its communities in a different light. To see neighborhoods they wouldn't normally see. To interact with others they normally wouldn't interact with," said Jim Johnson, a local cycling advocate who conceived the idea. "And by making this a biking and walking event, we're encouraging people to get out of their cars and connect with each other in a fun, unique and energizing way."
Find out more about RiverRocks at http://www.riverrockschattanooga.com.
Roads will be partially closed to essentially provide a wide bike lane, with street musicians performing along the way. The first stop of the inaugural Chattanooga City Celebration & Ciclovia will begin at the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee parking lot where attendees can park their vehicles and ride over to the cultural center for music, locally brewed craft beer, free food and outdoor activities. There will be climbing contests, group exercise with Orange Theory Fitness, soccer activities with the Chattanooga Football Club, the Chattahooligans and Operation Get Active. There will also be a "Pin the Bike on the Polling Place" game to help spread the word on polling locations and remind people of the importance of voting. And that's just the first stop. Festivals will be staggered, so each will start an hour after the previous stop.
Other stops will include art and dance at the Mural Fest & Arts Expo stop, the Highland Park Community Festival, Ridgedale Art in the Alley, Kids' Corner @ the Knob at Orchard Knob Elementary and Glass Street Live, an annual parade and celebration to cap the day.
The event is billed as a way for people with different backgrounds and upbringings to meet and converse while celebrating the area's history.
"What it's really done in communities is brought people to the table to start talking to each other," organizer Shannon Burke said. "Not only in planning these parties, but for other types of neighborhood projects that will improve the quality of life."
Two such projects will take place in the Glass Street area. Boyce Station, a historic area that recently got a neighborhood association, will be presented with a sign created by Studio Everything. A street mock-up will show what future improvements in the Dodson Avenue & Glass Street area could look like. It will demonstrate the impact of better crosswalks and improved landscaping.
The North Shore, Southside and MLK District have all seen overhauls and East Chattanooga could be next.
"The area's been in need of a transformation at the intersection for a long time," Glass House Collective Communication Coordinator Whitni McDonald said. "We'll show people what it could look like with a little more investment."
The event highlights the first official week of RiverRocks, a nearly month-long celebration highlighting Chattanooga's outdoor scene. It was created in 2010 as an umbrella celebration highlighting the outdoor events already taking place. More family events and other recreational opportunities were then added.
This year sees the return of Swim the Suck, Stump Jump, 7 Bridges Marathon and much more.
"RiverRocks is meant to celebrate Chattanooga's great outdoors," said Carla Pritchard, owner of Chattanooga Presents, which coordinates the event.
"We focus on the two-week period in October when it is arguably the nicest time of year in town and when people are out enjoying our mountains, and rivers and trails and streams and rocks."