A few years ago a community in Vancouver started an experiment. What happens if we shut down a major traffic corridor and throw a party? The result was amazing, and Car Free Vancouver Day was born. Since then, the festivals have grown. This year, Vancouver has four communities participating, and City Hall has approved, apparently, FOUR of these days.
Cameron and I are lucky enough to live in one of these communities!
So, guess where we spent Sunday afternoon? That’s right, partying it up in the middle of a street. Cameron at first held tightly to my hand as we headed into the midst of things, but it was somewhere around the centre line of the street that he got this funny look on his face. His fingers twitched. Then wriggled. Then all at once he snatched his hand free of mine, with a wide-eyed look of, “what happens next?” I just grinned at him, and he danced for a moment in response. No cars means he doesn’t have to hold my hand while we’re in a street.
Everyone seemed to be in a good mood, and most were ready to party. Some were clearly looking for direction, seeming uncertain as to how to go about this thing, or just sightseeing. As more of these festivals happen, more people will get the hang of things I’m sure. Still, crowds turned out! Organization was low, but hey what do you expect? That was part of the point. here wasn’t big money going into this, and there were no admission fees. It seemed that if you wanted to you could stake your claim and set up a tent or wading pool or whatever. If someone wished to dance, they dance. If a critical mass of dancers was reached, it seemed, everyone joined in. I’d like to point out that, rare for Vancouver, I didn’t even catch a whiff of pot. People seemed to respect that this was a family-geared event.
The firefighters came out with the ‘quint’ (the ladder truck), and immediately attracted a crowd of kids. Cameron was thrilled – this is his favourite truck. The police were there – not obviously on patrol, in fact I saw none doing that, but instead they were with a trailer hitched to an SUV. Inside? Police horses! They stuck their heads out to enjoy the sun, munch on hay, and say hi. Further down the community police unit had a bike officer … just hanging out. At every major intersection there was live music. There was a juggler.
A group of guys set up a half-pipe and various obstacles (uh, features? I don’t know what to call them) for skateboarding. We watched them do some of the set-up, and Cameron kept pulling me back there, eager to see what was happening. When they got going, he insisted, we had to stay and watch. Down the street a bit, a couple of chiropractor groups set up tents, and Cameron loved them both. Why? One had a moving model of a spine, the other had a skull – which bit the chiro. A group of moms had a wading pool with pillows in it, and a couple of pack’n play style playpens set up.
There was free cotton candy and popcorn. The guys working the cotton candy stand were awesome, and made a small one just for Cameron. Most of the restaurants had yummy treats for sale at decent prices.
We sat in the middle of the road and enjoyed music by Questpoetics for a bit, then wandered some, and returned for more. They played for a seriously long time, and were great. I’ll never understand how they can just do their thing, improv in rhythm and rhyme. Cameron, inspired by youtube videos of a performer beatboxing Peter and the Wolf on a flute, and recognizing some of the sounds, held up his stick-balloon like a flute and joined in.
In all, a great way to spend the afternoon. I haven’t seen the date of the next one announced, but maybe next we’ll try the West End one? Or Commercial Drive?