For a few hours, Pearl Street had no cars

Green Streets and firefighter parade show what can be done.

| Sep 21, 2010

Last Saturday, the town of Longmont held its annual summer parade. Like most parades across America, firefighters waved to the crowds from their firetrucks. What made Boulder’s Firefighters Parade different was that it happened on Sunday, at BoulderGreenStreets.

<cutline>A Sunshine fire truck at Green Streets (Reporter photo)</cutline>When volunteer firefighters arrived with firetrucks from Fourmile, Sunshine, Gold Hill, SugarLoaf, Boulder Mountain, and High Country, Hillary Griffith, organizer of Boulder’s first annual “Ciclovia” event, directed them off the street.

For a single day, a mile-long-stretch of downtown city streets would be closed to motor vehicles. And that included firetrucks.

On Sunday, volunteer firefighters from the Fourmile Fire, Colorado’s most devastating fire, in which 169 homes were lost, marched face-to-face with the community that wanted to thank them in person, shake their hand, wave hello, or give them a hug.

The idea of the Firefighters Parade was only conceived 10 days ago. What made it possible was a single word: YES, given by Hillary Griffith. For most of a year, she worked to gain permission for the one-mile street closure, invited in local businesses that symbolized Boulder’s healthy, creative community, and assembled 100 volunteers.

Ten days ago, when I came up with the idea of a Firefighters Parade, that yes made it happen. Like a viral firestorm, #Boulderfire’s Laura Levy lit up Facebook and Twitter. For nearly a week, I accepted every idea that was offered. We ended up with a Samba Marching Band, Belly Dancers, Rock ‘n Roll Choir, Boulder High Marching Band, Fourmileheroes posters, Kids Art, kids on scooters, kids on bicycles, dogs on leash, and the Barefoot Violinist (also a fire evacuee).

If BoulderGreenStreets was able to close that stretch of Pearl Street each Sunday, think of the possibilities that could happen in that car-free play space.

The Firefighters’ Parade in Boulder was only the first spark. What other creative, playful “in the street” ideas could turn up the heat of community, each Sunday, in our town? In your town?

In Bogota, Columbia, where the idea of Ciclovia first caught fire, 70 miles of city streets are turned over to more than 2 million citizens each Sunday for bicycling, jogging, roller skating, and strolling. It has become such an important part of community life, that, I’m told, it even took place each Sunday – 15 years ago – during the midst of that country’s Civil War!

This BLOG appeared in today’s Huffington Post. If you attended, wanted to attend, posted comments on the FAN and Invite pages, and now want more Cicolvia events in Boulder, please forward this email or the BLOG on to friends on your e-list. Please add your comments at the bottom of the article, in the HuffPost comment section. The City of Boulder, and other cities around the country will be interested to learn how many people enjoyed this event and want MORE streets “liberated.”