LOMPOC, Calif. - Lompoc has set the wheels in motion on what is hoped will be an annual tradition that brings the entire community together for a healthy and safe outdoor event.
The Open Streets concept in Old Town Lompoc is modeled on similar events in other cities and is designed to encourage residents to leave the car or truck at home, come downtown on bicycle or by walking and get to know each other and the town they share and call home.
"Maybe they'll meet some new people, meet some new activities", says event participant Ken Ostini with Explore Lompoc, "just make it a better opportunity to get out and get healthy."
"We want commuters to come into town, come out, spend time with the community they don't often see", says event organizer Ashley Costa, "my mantra is always why not Lompoc? So when I see amazing events happening in other communities I ask myself, can we bring this to Lompoc?"
Several blocks along Ocean Avenue and H Street in Old Town were shut down to motor vehicle traffic to the delight of cycling enthusiasts, pedestrians and others looking to get out and about in the heart of the city.
"I've never seen anything like it in my time living here, so yeah, I'm really excited", says local resident Izzy Dean who bicycled to the event with her parents.
Open Streets began with the giveaway of dozens of donated bicycles to local children.
"A lot of kids, I think over 30 of them received a bike today", says volunteer Sergio Garcia who oversaw the bike giveaway, "its really awesome to see a lot of kids with the smiles on their faces."
Open Streets was also held to coincide with the crowds that come to Old Town for the Friday Night Farmers Market.
"A nice added addition to our Old Town Market, why not, exactly, bring out people, get them active, recreate and bring the community together", says Amber Wilson with the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Lompoc joins other coastal cities in reaching out to their communities by providing a unique, motor vehicle free experience in a public venue and encouraging a healthier, outdoor lifestyle.
"Its a chance for people to have what is basically a street fair, which is always a great event", says Open Streets participant David Dennis, "also to get out and see the value of walking, bicycling, skateboarding, everything else that everybody is doing."
The Open Streets event could not have happened without the cooperation of the City of Lompoc, the Lompoc Police Department, Old Town businesses, volunteers and a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.