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Arroyo Fest Closes Down Historic Parkway

The 110 Freeway is often jammed at the Orange Grove exit, which steers traffic to or through South Pasadena.
But at about 7:30 a.m. last Sunday, the traffic was all on foot with the freeway closed for a six-mile stretch from Lincoln Heights to Pasadena for four hours to all but bicycles, walkers and runners to celebrate what was billed as the 626 Golden Streets Arroyo Fest. The route dumped onto Mission Street at the South Pasadena train station.
TV footage of the event showed a man playing the piano on the median.
The southbound freeway lanes were reserved for pedestrians — walkers, runners and wheelchair users — while the northbound lanes were dedicated for those on wheels such as bikes, skateboards, skates and scooters.
There were some serious runners — slowed to a trot at times — and walkers who stopped to carry their dogs, who grew tired, along with their owners. But everyone seemed to be having a good time, gleefully recording the event on their cellphones and waving back at onlookers watching from the overpass.
The Arroyo Seco Freeway, as the 110 Freeway is known, has reportedly only been officially closed down once since it opened in 1940. That was for the first Arroyo Fest in June 2003. That event was organized by staffers at Occidental College in Eagle Rock in an effort to bring together residents from the various communities that are connected by the area’s oldest freeway, while also touting outdoor activity to boost public health and promote a clean environment.
Perhaps it took 20 years for some drivers who got stuck waiting for all those people to disperse in the first Arroyo Fest to get over their frustrations.
Last Sunday’s event was organized by Metro’s Open Streets program in conjunction with the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, ActiveSGV and the cities of South Pasadena, Pasadena and Los Angeles.
A host of elected officials and community leaders gathered on Mission Street in South Pasadena at 6:40 a.m. for an official opening ceremony, including state Sen. Anthony Portantino and Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
“ActiveSGV and SGVCOG are excited to bring this wonderful community event back after 20 years so a whole new generation can explore the historic parkway,” ActiveSGV Special Programs Director Wes Reutimann said in a statement.
— City News Service contributed to this report.

Roller skaters bicyclists and skate boarders traveled northbound on the 110 Freeway at Arroyo Fest

First published in the November 3 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

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