by Ava Bustos
Síclovía will change its traditional setting on Broadway Street and head to the city’s South Side.
The partnership between the city and the YMCA of Greater San Antonio will head to Southtown 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, ending at Mission Concepción Park.
Visitors can expect to see runners with their iPods and sweatbands; children on their scooters and bikes; teenagers on skateboards; and teams of roller derbies.
The free Síclovía event turns major city streets into a safe place for people to exercise and play. “The streets become temporarily car-free for about five hours on Sundays for families to run, ride bikes, take exercise classes and enjoy their city streets,” according to the greater YMCA of San Antonio website. The event encourages healthy living and exercising.
The YMCA has seen a significant increase in attendance for Síclovía starting from 15,000 in 2011 to 73,000 in September 2013. The organization projects 65,000-100,000 people for this spring event.
Monica Garza, YMCA director of community wellness, said the growth of the Síclovía led the YMCA to give participants an opportunity to see different areas and not stay restricted to one location in the city. The goal is to reach out to different communities, and allow all of San Antonio to experience the event.
This year marks the first time Síclovía will stray away from its usual Broadway Street route.
“Following the event, the YMCA will evaluate the businesses and participants and see if we can improve or modify the event route,” Garza said.
This year’s event will take place along St. Mary’s Street and Roosevelt Avenue to Mission Concepción Park.
Greg Smith, chief of resource management and visitor protection, said the park’s involvement in the event excites him because it reinforces their primary goal.
“National Park Services promotes outdoor recreation,” he said. “It seems like a perfect fit.”
Síclovía will also take place at a later hour this year, allowing attendees the option of attending mass services and the opportunity to visit one of the five historical missions.
Mission Concepción Park marks a designated Reclovía, which are designated areas where people can attend scheduled free exercises, recreational games, and food and water stations, Garza said.
The YMCA organizes two Síclovía events a year, which cost about $150,000 each. The organization continuously seeks partners to help sponsor and keep the event ongoing in San Antonio.
Some of the participating organizations on the grounds of the National Park Service at Mission Concepción Park include the San Antonio Zoo, Bike World, Animal Care Services and the River Authority.
Smith said visitors of the park arrive from the river portal, a heavily biked area, and gives the park a “solid connection from the Mission to the River, which gets a lot of use from residents and visitors.”
“Open street projects are not new to the United States but are now becoming more popular,” Garza said.
Los Angeles has “CicLAvia” and New York has “Sunday Streets.”
The San Antonio Metropolitan Health Department participated in the program Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), which received a $15 million federal grant. Metro Health then began its health movement and fight against obesity by starting its progression of Síclovía, “Fitness in the Park,” park restorations, and B-Cycle.
The YMCA became involved with Síclovía when Metro Health began reaching out to the community for partners in order to continue the semi-annual event even after the grant finished.
The YMCA depends on raising funds to continue the event, so the YMCA can continue to encourage its core values: healthy living, social responsibility and youth development.
For more information on Síclovía, visit the YMCA of Greater San Antonio website.