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‘Open Streets’ deemed success

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The “Open Streets” event held in Emo last Thursday has been deemed a success by organizers.

“I think for the first year it was quite successful,” enthused Allison Cox, rec director/community development co-ordinator for the Township of Emo.

“We were really happy with the turnout—there were tons of kids, which was great to see,” she noted.

Organizers are estimating about 100 people stopped by the event, which ran from noon-3 p.m. on Front Street.

“[‘Open Streets’ is] an initiative that temporarily closes streets to automobile traffic, and its focus is to get pedestrians out using the streets for walking, cycling, dancing, playing, socializing,” Cox explained.

She said it’s an international initiative, with similar events having been held in major cities all over the world.

Through a partnership between the Township of Emo and the Northwestern Health Unit, the “Open Streets” event is part of the health unit’s “Do One Thing” campaign.

“The purpose of the campaign is to encourage our communities to become more physically active and eat healthier,” said Holly Kropelin.

“It will also encourage people to help make the healthy choice the easy choice by advocating for changes that improve the food choices and physical activity opportunities where we live, learn, work, and play,” she added.

“One thing, many rewards,” Kropelin stressed, noting small steps can lead to better health.

“‘One thing’ adds up,” she reasoned.

But there certainly was more than “one thing” to do on Front Street while it was closed to vehicular traffic from Florence Street to Queen Street.

There was street hockey provided by the Emo-Devlin-Barwick Minor Hockey Association, fitness classes offered by Rejuvenate, and a boot camp by Elite Fitness.

As well, a number of children’s activities, such as hula-hooping, a bean bag toss, limbo, parachute games, and bubbles, were set up by the Emo Toy Library and the health unit.

Rainy River Meats offered a barbecued lunch, New Gold handed out balloons to the children, Party Rock DJ Services provided music, and a number of businesses hosted sidewalk sales.

“It was great to see all the community involvement,” Cox enthused.

“We’re hoping that now that we’ve had one, we can keep growing it,” she added, noting they’re hoping to make “Open Streets” an annual event.

Cox said she thinks the event did what it set out to do.

“Even the ones who didn’t partake in fitness classes were still moving around on Front Street,” she remarked.

She and Kropelin will be getting together this week to debrief, but Cox indicated she’d like to see even more people out next year.

The day kicked off with a bike rodeo at the tennis court from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. hosted by the OPP and Emo Rec, which drew 17 participants.

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