Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On Sunday, October 12 thousands of people filled the car-free streets of downtown Garden Grove for “Re:Imagine Garden Grove – A Downtown Open Streets Event.” The inaugural event closed streets to traffic and removed cars from nearly three miles of the downtown area to create a curated event route for all forms of non-motorized transportation to enjoy. The event celebrated the diversity of the Garden Grove community and promoted public health and active transportation through art, food, music, and activities in the car-free streets.

Re:Imagine Garden Grove – A Downtown Open Streets Event kicked off at 11 a.m. with an opening ceremony at the intersection of historic Main St. and Acacia Pkwy. The City of Garden Grove partnered with Los Angeles-based Community Arts Resources (CARS), creators of L.A.’s CicLAvia open streets event, to produce the first year event. On stage CARS Co-Founder and President Aaron Paley introduced Garden Grove Mayor Bruce Broadwater, City Council members Steve Jones and Christopher V. Phan, OCTA Deputy CEO Ken Phipps, and 1st District Supervisor and OCTA Board of Directors Janet Nguyen. The speakers welcomed event goers and spoke about the meaning of the open streets concept as it relates to the revitalization of downtown Garden Grove and active transportation.

“We hope Re:Imagine Garden Grove brings visitors out to our city and gives residents a sense of pride,” commented Mayor Broadwater to a crowd of pedestrians and cyclists at the start of the event. “It’s refreshing to see all of these people out and enjoying their community.”

A highlight of the event was the Pacific Electric Right of Way Temporary Bike and Pedestrian Path which was manicured and open for access throughout the day. Ken Phipps and Supervisor Janet Nguyen commented on the significance of the path as a part of the city and OCTA’s ongoing work towards expanded active transportation.

“The Right of Way has not been used in over 30 years until today,” commented Supervisor Nguyen. “Open streets events are a great way to show the potential of bicycles as an avid form of transportation. The concept fits right into the vision of OCTA to advance transportation and grow interconnecting bikeways county wide.”

The Right of Way was used avidly by cyclists and pedestrians at Re:Imagine Garden Grove and was part of the public art path curated by the creative ensemble, NONdesigns, titled 50 Hedrons. Fifty, red, triangular, public art sculptures were on display at various points on the art path throughout the event route. Fifty event goers volunteered to adopt succulent plants at the “Keys to the Garden: Public Art Path Participation Station” and placed each plant in a specific triangular sculpture. Those fifty people will be tasked with caring for their public sculpture and plant for the next month and afterwards can take the succulent and sculpture home to enjoy.

“Roots,” a public mural on the south facing wall of the Gem Theatre, was unveiled at the opening ceremony of Re:Imagine Garden Grove. The mural was painted by former NFL football quarterback turned recognized artist, Todd Marinovich. The mural represents the city’s agricultural heritage and current revitalization efforts.

“Public art is a key ingredient to bringing a community together to give it life,” commented City Councilman Steve Jones. “Todd reinvented himself as an artist and downtown Garden Grove is working to reinvent itself as a vibrant community. Asking Todd to create this public mural was a natural fit.”

Public art continued with an interactive wall installed on historic Main St. titled, “Before I Die I Want To…” that invited event goers to write and share their dreams on the wall. Acacia Pkwy. between Main St. and Euclid offered a design center, play zone, and Old Grove Auto’s Open Canvas Workshop.

The local Garden Grove eateries on historic Main Street and Stanford Ave. spilled out on the streets with menu samples and patio seating. A culinary stage highlighted the cuisine of Orange County with live cooking demos with Chef Nathaniel of The Prince and Pantry, Chef Andrew of The Iron Press and Blind Rabbit, and Chef Niki of Mesa. Ten local food trucks lined the streets at various points of the event route. The Garden Grove Community Foundation offered a VIP area complete with a beer and wine garden.

Live music, dance performances, action sports demos, gardening workshops, kid zones, photo booths, a rock climbing wall, and martial arts classes were just a few of the activities that thousands experienced as they traversed the car-free streets. Pedestrians, bicyclists, runners, skateboarders, skaters and rollerbladers explored the downtown and saw the city of Garden Grove in a whole new way.

“Re:Imagine was designed for all of our communities, to come together and celebrate individuality and diversity,” commented CARS Co-Founder, Aaron Paley. “There are so many unique cultures right here in Garden Grove and to see them all together out enjoying the community is inspiring and the beginning steps in the revitalization of this great downtown.”