Grab your bicycles and walking shoes, it’s almost time for the City of Newberry’s inaugural Open Streets event! Mary Alex Kopp, tourism and events manager for the city is encouraging everyone to get out and get moving for their community.
Held downtown on Saturday, June 1 from 9 a.m. until noon, Open Streets is part of a national movement to “reclaim the road” for bikers and pedestrians by temporarily closing roads commonly used for vehicle traffic and open the streets to families.
Kopp said the idea for this new event was brought to them by Newberry resident, Christina Henricks, who had participated in organizing Open Streets events in the Columbia area and felt that it was something the Newberry community could benefit from.
“I’m the co-chair for the Bicycles and Pedestrian Advisory Committee for the City of Columbia and have helped organize Open Streets initiatives for the past three years,” she said. “From my experience implementing it, I felt it was a really good fit for Newberry to promote active living and transforming streets into car-free space for people to enjoy.”
Henricks said she brought the idea forward to Kopp and several city staff members who were very receptive and ran with the idea.
The committee Henricks chairs created a toolkit to help neighborhoods in Columbia implement similar programs in their communities, which she said she provided to Newberry as a guide in how to start the program here.
While many cities, including larger cities such as Minneapolis as well as cities closer to home like Charlotte participate in the Open Streets initiative, it takes shape differently in each location, Henricks said.
Kopp said when planning what Newberry’s Open Streets would look like, they wanted to make sure it was for people of all ages and families and as the event took shape it also embodied a community engagement and active lifestyle fair. The event will focus on fitness and fun and provide a variety of summer options for children’s camps.
For Open Streets, Kopp said Newberry conceptualized the idea of partnering with agencies downtown that represented what it meant to live a safe and healthy lifestyle. One of the partners for this year’s event is the Grow Newberry Farmer’s Market that will officially open that Saturday, June 1 in Memorial Park for their summer season.
“You’re able to go to the farmers market, buy the freshest of foods, all the while supporting our local farms,” Kopp said.
Other partners include the Newberry YMCA that offers pool service as well as child and adult programming and Newberry County Memorial Hospital that is ready to share information on their pediatric therapy program, Kopp said.
Several City of Newberry partners will be represented including the Newberry Fire Department to go through basic fire safety information as well as relay races and games similar to what families may remember from the department’s annual Kids Fun Day event.
Because the event is focused on promoting walking and biking, the Newberry Police Department will host a bike safety rodeo, open to all ages to teach the community the basics of bike safety on the roadway.
The Newberry Arts Center will be downtown Saturday with a variety of activities as well as the city’s RecMobile to show families what that summer program is all about.
The COMET, Kopp said will be sending an example of the commuter bus that will be used for the 93X route that began on May 28.
“It’s a great way to show people that if you do work in the Columbia area that there is a more active way you can get to and from work where you’re not spending money on gas or sitting in your car in traffic,” Kopp said.
The bus will have bike racks for residents that want to ride their bike from home to the COMET pickup, then ride the rest of their way to work at the bus drop-off station. Kopp said they wanted the community to know that service was available to them. The option to sign up for the service will be on site during the event.
Kopp said Newberry had many gyms and fitness groups that would be set up at Open Streets with information to provide to residents.
“Maybe you’ve lived here forever and didn’t know some of these places had opened,” she said.
Many of the groups will be holding free fitness classes that morning to include Newberry Yoga holding their regular Saturday Power Class at 8:30 a.m. in Astwood Park. The power class combines yoga with strength building exercises. At 10 a.m., the group will hold a beginner class. Bring a yoga mat if you have one, Kopp said.
The classes will be free, she said and modified so that they’re regularly accessible to everyone, which makes it a great opportunity to learn what it is they’re about.
Other fitness classes will be set up on the corner of Main and Nance Streets.
Bear Arms Crossfit will hold class from 9-10 a.m. that will be modified to fit a wide variety audience, Kopp said.
At 10 a.m., Mayor Foster Senn, along with Miss Newberry and Miss Teen Newberry will host a one-mile walk. Both Miss Newberry and Miss Newberry Teen will take a minute to discuss their platforms that are family-health focused before the walk begins. The walk is approximately one-mile and is a loop from Main Street at Memorial Park up to Calhoun Street and back. During the walk, Senn will be providing some history of downtown for those joining.
June 1 is also National Trails Day and the Palmetto Conservation Foundation is celebrating that with the opening of the Newberry Passage of the Palmetto Trail. That morning, hikers that have hiked that portion of the trail will meet up with Senn for their walk at 10 a.m. to join in.
At 10:15 a.m., if you’ve completed the one-mile walk and want to keep the momentum going, Kopp said Anytime Fitness will be hosting a class at the corner of Main and Nance Streets.
For families with children, there will be a free children’s movement class from 10:45 until 11:15 a.m. with StageMakers. Kopp said those that came downtown for the city’s Chili Cookoff may remember a similar class for children held by the same group.
“The class is definitely focused for children, so those with little ones, bring them there to check it out,” Kopp said.
Miss Newberry and Miss Teen Newberry will host a Zumba class from 11:15 until noon when the event officially ends.
All of those doing demonstrations will have booths, Kopp said where residents can sign up for their programming.
A few other groups will be represented including Tribe Fitness located off C.R. Koon Highway in Newberry. The fitness group is known for their Dance2Fit classes.
Midlands Southern Off-Road Biking Association (SORBA) will have a booth for their organization dedicated to teaching the community about the lifestyle of mountain biking. Their booth will have information about mountain biking and how to get involved with their organization.
Located next to Midlands SORBA will be Blue Zones Newberry to provide information on what it means to be a Blue Zone Community.
Representing the Enoree River Ranger District, the Sumter National Forest will be set up near the end of Main Street with information about the different recreation opportunities available in the forest, including but not limited to horseback riding, fishing and biking. A partner organization, Leave no Trace will be joining them to give basic information on using public lands and trails for example how to leave these areas looking better than how they were found.
The Palmetto Trail will also be located next to the fitness stage downtown with 300 free bottles of water for those that get thirsty! The Palmetto Trail now has four legs within Newberry County and information will available on those along with how to get involved.
The Newberry County Animal Shelter will be hosting pet adoptions during the event, Kopp said with quite a few animals looking for a good home.
“If your family has been contemplating a pet, this might be a good time to come down and take a pet home with you,” she said.
Bike Baby will be open for business that day at 1104-B Main Street and will have several bikes on the sidewalk to encourage visitors to check out their store.
“If you don’t have a bike for Open Streets, you could pay them a visit and leave with a bike,” Kopp said.
Kopp said Bike Baby was currently offering free bicycle tune-up services for anyone planning to participate in the Open Streets event from now until the event. There will also be a free water station at her business during the event.
Directly across the street, is an area Kopp said they’re referring to as the Summer Camp Walk. With the event taking place just days before the last day of school, she said they thought it would be a great opportunity for organizations to promote their summer camps for children and teens.
“We’re hoping that parents will treat this as a one-stop shop to sign their children up for summer activities,” she said.
Camps signed up to participate in the event and a little of what they’re offering is as follows:
- Newberry Arts Center – will preview of what their summer camp experience is like for children and teens.
- RecMobile – free summer mobile recreation program that will have a preview of games set up at the event as a demonstration.
- Newberry YMCA - will have a booth for general membership, children’s summer programming and swimming lessons.
- Bear Arms Crossfit – will have a booth for general membership and information on their children’s summer camp.
- Munson’s Music – music summer camp signups
- Newberry County Library – information and schedule for their summer reading program along with applications for library cards.
- Oakland Tennis Center – information on summer camps as well as Youth Fun Day that will be taking place on June 8. Will also have information on their summer adult tennis programming.
- Newberry Wolves Soccer Camp – information on summer soccer camps at Newberry College
- Earwood’s Karate Dojo Kicking Kids Kamp – information on their Karate kids camp that teaches kids about empowerment and respect.
- Newberry County 4H – general 4H information as well as information on a variety of summer camp opportunities. Will also have hands-on activities and a takeaway gift.
- Newberry County Soil and Water Conservation District – information on their Camp Conservation summer camp that encompasses outdoor play, recreation, respect for outdoor spaces and the science behind agriculture and farming.
- Camp Horseshoe – information on Newberry County’s horseback riding camp as well as their other camp opportunities.
- StageMakers – summer camps for ages 3-14 in the performing arts.
- Newberry Opera House – information on their summer Astronaut Camp, hosted by Janet’s Planet and the groups that visited Newberry during EclipseFest.
- Newberry County Literacy Council – information on their nonprofit programming as well as their free summer camp located in the Wise Street neighborhood.
All of the summer camps will be located in the block of Main Street immediately next to Community Hall, Kopp said and allow the opportunity for parents to sign their children up on-site.
“Our summer camp opportunities rang from music, to summer arts, sports and science,” she said. “We have something for everyone in this summer camp walk.”
Main Street will be blocked off similar to areas closed during a parade downtown, Kopp said, however side streets will be primarily open. The streets will close Saturday morning around 6 a.m. and reopen by around 1 p.m.
Kopp said the community response to the event so far had been great and that they felt this was something Newberry really needed.
“I’m really excited about what this could mean for the Newberry County community in general and having a better understanding of what’s out there,” Kopp said. “I think it’s going to be a great event.”
Kopp said she encourages those coming to bring bottles of water as it will be warm outside and after the event to cool down indoors at one of the many restaurant options available downtown.
“A lot of these places will do to-go food so if you really want to stick to the outside theme of the morning, you can pick up a picnic lunch and take it with you into the area,” she said.
The Newberry Opera House will be open for restrooms. No portable restrooms will be available.
Henricks said she was really proud of the way Newberry was giving its Open Streets initiative its own stamp in connecting with the downtown farmer’s market and summer camp opportunities.
“It feels like a natural fit to bring an event to the city that takes a new angle from its other festivals,” she said. “I’m thankful for Mary Alex’s work in putting it together – the list of partners and participants is impressive and I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together.”
A full list of activities, schedule and an interactive Google map can be found under the Facebook event Open Streets Newberry, Kopp said.