Promotional Síclovía bikes have been placed all over the city in anticipation Síclovía scheduled for March 30, 2014. Photo by Randy Bear.
Painted promotional bikes have been placed all over the city in anticipation Síclovía scheduled for March 30, 2014. Photo by Randy Bear.

The Mission Reach of the San Antonio River will play host to a record crowd surpassing those on hand for last October’s official opening ceremonies when Síclovía draws an anticipated 70,000 people to “play in the street” and pedal along the river Sunday.

It’s the first time Síclovía has ventured off Broadway. The near-Southside venue this weekend is expected to attract plenty of nearby neighbors as well as tens of thousands of people on foot and bicycles who do not frequent this historic part of the city. Some Southside families trace their roots to the early 18th century when Spanish missionaries and indigenous groups first encountered one another and eventually came to live together and build the Missions.

Activities and participants at the 2014 Get Outdoors! event at Mission San José. Photo by Carol Baas Sowa.
Activities and participants at the 2014 Get Outdoors! event at Mission San José on March 1, 2014. Photo by Carol Baass Sowa.

Breaking with past events on Broadway Street, Síclovía 2014 will start on South St. Mary’s Street at East César Chávez Boulevard and extend south to Concepción Park, a route of about 2.5 miles. Along the way people will be met with activities, games, and information at six Reclovías, or activity areas. Typically designed to introduce new activities or games to those in attendance, the Reclovías have become a popular part of Síclovía.

For most who come, the joy of Síclovía is in the closure of streets to traffic and the sudden freedom to mix and mingle with thousands of other people of all ages, backgrounds and parts of the city. Young parents pushing strollers mingle with families parading with pets, kids on decorated trikes and starter bikes with training wheels, skateboarders, and serious and recreational cyclists slow pedaling side by side, all are there to take in the festival atmosphere. The occasional unicyclist, stilt walker, costumed couple, or other eye-catching participant always adds to the experience.

Sicovia, Sept. 29, 2013. Photo by Steven Starnes.
Síclovía, Sept. 29, 2013. Photo by Steven Starnes.

One popular Reclovía activity will be the Team Better Block project on Roosevelt Street, hosting a pop-up farmer’s market and public art space. Designed to help people imagine what could be done with a street or vacant lot, Better Block projects are erected with simple materials and set up with many different items such as benches, tables, or other amenities.

[Read More: For One Weekend, Team Better Block Transforms Alamo Plaza]

Thanks to the National Park Service, attendees will get to experience one of the early Native American activities from the region called the átlatl toss while exploring Mission Concepción, one of four Spanish Colonial missions along with the Alamo being considered as a World Heritage Site. The equipment used in the toss consists of a shaft with a cup or bowl at the end used to propel a long spear at high velocities.

Pet adoptions will be hosted by the City of San Antonio’s Animal Care Services in Concepción Park where people can spend time to with the animals and adopt them on the spot.

The most significant change with this Síclovía is the opportunity for people to move from a traffic-free street to the 8.5 miles of paved trails along the San Antonio River’s Mission Reach. Organizers hope Síclovía’s close proximity to the expanded Mission Reach will introduce more people to the Southside – beyond the streets.

A young boy curiously admires the Mission Reach during its grand opening ceremony on Oct. 5, 2013. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
A young boy curiously admires the Mission Reach during its grand opening ceremony on Oct. 5, 2013. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Síclovía is first and foremost an opportunity for people to get outdoors and engage in a physical activity to learn more about healthy living. To help promote healthy lifestyles, many of the activity areas will have cooking demonstrations, Zumba classes, or informational booths.

City officials also see this as an opportunity to elevate health awareness in an area of the city with high levels of obesity, adolescent obesity and type II diabetes.

“I think statistically we see the South and Westside have a higher percentage of diabetes and chronic diseases,” said Monica Garza, director of community wellness for the YMCA of Greater San Antonio. “As the key organizer of this event, it really touches on our three focus areas of youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.”

Síclovía 2014 route map. Click to enlarge.
Síclovía 2014 route map. Click to enlarge.

One of the leaders who helped spearhead the effort to move the event to the Southside was District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran, who hopes Síclovía will showcase her district and the Mission Reach while increasing health awareness.

“All of San Antonio has an issue with obesity, specifically District 3 has an issue with diabetes. Out of 1,000 people, according to Metro Health, 68 have an issue with diabetes,” said Viagran. “Síclovía is going to offer opportunities where people can see different variations of how to get active and be healthy.”

Sponsors for this year’s event include H-E-B as presenting sponsor and Humana health insurance as a platinum sponsor. The event offers H-E-B a chance to promote the Mayor’s Fitness Council‘s recently launched Million Pound Challenge, a competition between San Antonio and Houston to help focus on curbing obesity by tracking citizen weight loss.

While Houston has been actively promoting the challenge to its citizens with Mayor Annise Parker spearheading the effort, San Antonio plans to meet the challenge through active recruiting at Síclovía. People can sign up at multiple locations at either the H-E-B site at Roosevelt Park or the Humana location at Brackenridge High School. Even if you miss signing up at one of the location, you can also sign up online at FitCitySA.com.

“We want folks to understand what their healthy weight is,” said Kate Rogers, H-E-B’s vice president of partner communications and chair of the Mayor’s Fitness Council. “Every pound counts in this competition.”

*Featured/top image: Painted promotional bikes have been placed all over the city in anticipation of this year’s Síclovía scheduled for March 30, 2014. Photo by Randy Bear.

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Randy Bear

Randy Bear is a 20-plus years San Antonio resident, transplanted from Little Rock to join the ranks of USAA in Information Technology. Over the last two decades, he’s been involved in a variety of civic...