Third annual Park Day brought out young and old for activities

PARKERSBURG – Despite a cool start, the third annual Park Day brought out young and old alike for a day of outdoor activities on Saturday in downtown Parkersburg.

Rickie Yeager, Parkersburg city planner, said the festival is in its third year and is still growing.

Park Day is an international event that encourages people to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into public parks and other social spaces. In place of cars, people are encouraged to come ride, skate, jump, play and dance in the street.

“It’s bigger and better than ever,” Yeager said. “The whole idea is to get people out and enjoy downtown in a way they have not been able to, get them to re-envision what their downtown will look like.

“It’s everybody’s community and this is the time we can shut down some streets and have some fun.”

For Saturday’s event, Market Street was closed from Sixth to Eighth streets, with through-traffic permitted on Seventh Street.

Yeager said a number of partner groups made the event possible. Part of the event showed a proposed bike lane down Market Street. Yeager said it was set up as an idea for people to think about.

“It’s just an idea,” he said. “We’ve been working on ways to bring more bike paths into the city and it’s a way to educate people about it,” he said.

Yeager said the Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority set up a Easy Rider bus on the street to give people an idea of how the bike lane will work between the traffic lanes and parking areas.

“It will give it more an urban environment to give people a feeling of what it will be like on a busier street and you are riding with traffic,” he said. “We are trying to recreate what it would be like.”

This year’s Park Day included a bike rodeo to teach bicycle safety to children. Don Williams, a local EMT working at the rodeo, said the focus was on the top three causes of accidents and deaths for bicycle riders, especially for children.

“We are educating them about the top three killers of children (on bikes),” he said. “Riding out of a driveway without stopping or looking, going through an intersection without looking and riding and not looking behind them before they try avoid an obstacle in the road.”

Williams said the last one is the top killer of children and adults.

“They don’t think to look behind them before they move,” he said. “It may be a pothole or an opening car door, we show them how it is important to look.”

Williams said the stations were set up to show riders how to avoid an obstacle like broken glass.

“It’s easy to make sure that front tire go by an obstacle but you need to make sure your back tire does too,” he said.

Other stations included teaching riders about obstacles and the importance of wearing helmet while riding.

Among the other activities featured during Saturday’s Park Day were a kids play zone, a fitness challenge, a food tour featuring a walking tour of downtown restaurants, a family-friendly tailgate party for the West Virginia University football game, guided bike tours, live music and a Pocket Park Contest.