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Psst… Hey there. You may not know it, but there’s this huge party happening on Sunday, Sept. 29, and you should totally go.

It’s called Síclovía. It’s going to be a lot of fun and tons of people are going – by that I mean an estimated 75,000 friends, family and neighbors. They’ll be playing games, throwing frisbees, shooting hoops, listening to music, dancing, doing yoga and, of course, there will be bikes.

Temporary BMX park for Siclovia 2013. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
Temporary BMX/skate park for Síclovía 2013. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

This is the kind of party that the police show up to long before it even gets started – to close down two miles of Broadway Street.

Síclovía, organized by the YMCA of Greater San Antonio, is now the largest health and wellness community event in the city. Since 2011, attendance has more than quadrupled. And it’s easy to see why, as each year brings with it more events, recreational opportunities, entertainment, and community education.

siclovia attendance stats

The original “Ciclovía” started in Bogotá, Colombia about 30 years ago. Even at its start, the weekly event dwarfs San Antonio’s semi-annual event by closing down eight miles of downtown streets. Today, they close down 70 miles for more than 500,000 people every Sunday. Similar events have started worldwide in more than 100 cities.

“Síclovía is an opportunity for everyone to come out and play in the streets, and explore all the unique recreational areas along the way,” says Monica Garza, Director of Community Wellness for the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.

Broadway Street- from Mulberry Avenue to Alamo Plaza – will be closed to automotive traffic to give way to human-powered traffic. Along the corridor, local organizations and businesses will offer an array of free classes, seminars and health and wellness oriented programming in designated areas called Reclovías.

siclovia route

With a total of eight Reclovías along the route, there will truly be something for everyone, including an adaptive sports area for folks with special needs. That’s in addition to spaces carved out for specific activities, like last year’s skatepark (helmets required).

As attendance has grown, so has the diversity and participation of local organizations.

“We’re proud to be apart of this year’s event.” says Rick Ortiz of the The San Antonio Gaelic Athletic Club. “Our city is really hitting its stride right now, in terms of getting people more involved in fitness as well as exploring and enjoying the diversity of San Antonio, and the convergence of those two things is really exciting.”

His group will be hosting an interactive demonstration of two traditional Irish sports: Gaelic football and hurling.

Siclovia is an opportunity to get out and about and get exposed to new activities like Gaelic football. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Villarreal
Síclovía is an opportunity to get out and about and get exposed to new activities like Gaelic football. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Villarreal.

“We’ll be offering participants an opportunity to learn the basic skills of these sports and maybe a bit of competition as well,” says Ortiz. “They’re relatively easy to pick up by beginners, and anyone who has ever played American football, soccer, basketball or even volleyball will find themselves utilizing skills from those sports. Plus, it’s a great workout!”

But you certainly don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to enjoy Síclovía, where most folks seem happy to simply have the open roads to walk, skate, or pedal around.

A girl rides a Razor scooter down the center of Broadway Street during Síclovía 2013. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
A girl rides a Razor scooter down the center of Broadway Street during Síclovía 2013. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

“We want people to understand that this is not a race or competition,” says Garza “It’s a chance for everyone to come out and be physically active. And it’s free!”

But if it’s a race you want, you can have that too.

While Síclovía is officially set to roll from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., starting at 8 a.m., there will be a 5K walk and run along the event route. “It’s definitely a unique race since it’s one of the only 5K’s that goes through downtown and Alamo plaza’” says Garza. The 5K offers awards and prizes two deep in each age group. Children under 14 can participate for free, but everyone needs to register. You can sign up online now by following this link, or pay a few bucks more if you register late or in person on race day. Be advised: the sooner you register, the more likely you are to snag an official race shirt.

Last year, the 5K had more than 300 participants, and this year that number is expected to climb to 700 or more. Registration fees from the race go to cover event costs.

As Garza pointed out, Síclovía is a free community event, but it’s not free to organize. And while HEB has stepped in as the presenting sponsor and Humana has joined in as a platinum sponsor (among other contributors), there’s always room for other donors to get involved and help keep the event free, fun, progressive and moving forward.

rules of the road siclovia

The growing popularity of the event has also led organizers to put a premium on reminding folks of some basic courtesies and rules of the road. So if you decide to come out and join the party, aside from bringing your sunscreen and staying hydrated, make sure to stay to the right if you’re walking, riding slowly, or with kids. And please don’t stop and talk in the middle of the road. Also, if you’re brining your four-legged friend, make sure to keep them close by and on a short leash as well.

Speaking of pets, assuming Fido accompanies you to Síclovía, you should note that one of the additions this year is an area dedicated specifically to our furry friends – look for it beneath the I-35/281 interchange.

Which one is tagging along for a ride? Photo by Iris Dimmick.
Which one is tagging along for a ride? Photo by Iris Dimmick.

So whether you come early to race the 5K or swing by later for a casual stroll, make sure to save the date: Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013.

“This is an opportunity for everyone, families and friends, to come out and be active in a car-free environment,” says Garza. “In the end, it’s going to be a fun day.”

Tom Trevino is a writer and wellness coach based out of San Antonio. His weekly column covers anything and everything related to health and wellness. He holds a B.A. from the University of Texas at San Antonio, with certification and training from the Cooper Institute. He has a fondness for dogs, NPR, the New York Times, and anything on two wheels. When he’s not writing, training, or cooking, you can find him wandering the aisles of Central Market.

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