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Center Streets Provides West Hartford Community with ‘Block Party on Wheels’

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The fifth annual Center Streets drew a crowd as a loop around West Hartford Center was closed to vehicular traffic for several hours on Sunday.

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

They came by bike – including bikes with training wheels, three wheelers, and on recumbent bicycles – they came by scooter, they came by skateboard, they came in strollers, and they came on foot, and with a loop around West Hartford Center closed to vehicle traffic for several hours Sunday, the community enjoyed what many have called a “block party on wheels” held traditionally on the Sunday before school resumes.

While people came in waves, West Hartford Police officers on duty estimated the crowd during the duration of the event, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., totaled 2,000, although never at any one single time.

“The demographic is definitely families with kids,” said Ethan Frankel, co-organizer of the fifth annual Center Streets. The event was not held in 2020, with a “slow roll” replacing it, but returned for 2021. He said the overall number who attended seemed to be roughly the same as in past years.

“The kids have a blast and the parents love it,” Frankel said.

An avid cyclist, Frankel said he was happy to see so many people in attendance, and also mentioned that he is also happy with the North Main Street road diet. “I feel like it brings sanity to driving through town,” he said.

In addition to opening the streets Sunday for exclusive use by cyclists, scooters, skateboarders, and pedestrians, Center Streets featured music from two live bands, spin classes from LIFER Fitness, and an area where people of all ages could enjoy chalk drawing on the road, corn hole, and hula hoops.

Many area businesses also set up booths on the sidewalk or offered special deals for those attending the event.

Debra Johnson-Fountain, owners of LIFER Fitness, brought 10 bikes and hosted two, 30-minute classes which were booked solid. She said it’s the fourth time she has participated in Center Streets, and loves the energy of the event.

Roads were closed to vehicles for the duration of the Center Streets event in a rectangular loop that included Farmington Avenue (from LaSalle Road to South Main Street), the southbound lanes of South Main Street to the Memorial Road extension, the Memorial Road extension to LaSalle Road, and the entire stretch of LaSalle Road up to Farmington Avenue.

Although the Town of West Hartford personnel are physically involved in closing off the streets, the event is entirely run by volunteers and is a public-private partnership with all costs paid for by sponsors.

More information about Bike West Hartford, Inc., a nonprofit corporation promoting the development of bicycle infrastructure and education within West Hartford, can be found here.

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ethan Frankel (right), co-organizer of Center Streets, with Paul Hogan and Denisse Gutierrez of the West Hartford Pedestrain and Bicycle Commission. Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

BiCiCo was one of the exhibitors at Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Score performed on Farmington Avenue. Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Herman the Sheep, who has his own Instagram page, is the mascot of the Newington Bike Shop. Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford Police officers and brothers Joe (left) and Jeff Hopkins on duty at Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Courtesy photo

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Cara Pauik

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Cara Pauik

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Cara Pauik

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Cara Pauik

Debra Johnson-Fountain of LIFER Fitness brought 10 spin bikes to the event. Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Travis Busch (left) and his father, Dan Busch, perform on LaSalle Road. Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Former Assistant Police Chief Dan Coppinger helps out the department occasionally as a supernumerary. Center Streets. West Hartford Center. Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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