BY STEPHANIE FOX
Open Streets Lyndale, the final Open Streets event for the season, will be held on Oct. 8 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lyndale Avenue will be closed to motor traffic from 42nd Street to 22nd Street, and open to pedestrians, bikes, rollerblades and skateboards. The street will be lined with entertainment opportunities, places to grab a bite to eat, small shops, and chances to get information about nonprofits and city services.
This will be the 12th year for Open Streets, events held to showcase what Minneapolis streets might be like without traffic. During that time, the popular event has drawn more than 600,000 people, growing more popular each year. But this might be the last chance for Open Streets fans to attend.
In August, The Minneapolis Public Works Department announced that they planned to end their partnership with Open Streets, an announcement made with no advance discussion and no mention of a chance for future events.
Currently, negotiations are underway, with the Open Streets organization considering making these multi-department funded events. “Our organization has relied on grants, sponsorships, and registration fees to either break even or at a loss, and the city of Minneapolis has declined years of requests to fund the program,” said Carly Ellefsen, Communications Manager at Our Streets Minneapolis.
The organization has submitted three budget ideas to the city. One proposal is for Open Streets to hold 13 events in the coming year, showcasing all 13 wards in the city.
Meanwhile, this year’s Open Streets Lyndale will include a number of fun things for people of all ages.
Near the corner of Lyndale and Lake Street, this popular arcade bar will be partnering with F1RST Wrestling, with live wrestling matches at their front door throughout the day.
“Most fun part? Possibly the Indeed beer truck that will be pulling up outside next to the wrestling ring,” said Tucker Cox, Up-Down’s general manager. A Redbull bar will also offer beverages for those who need a lift.
“We see Open Streets as a community-forward event showcasing neighborhoods across the city and we want to contribute to our little slice of the city as much as possible to help grow the community and introduce folks from farther away to see what the neighborhood has to offer,” said Cox.
HUGE Improv Theater
HUGE is a nonprofit organization offering classes in improv theater that help people develop social skills, public speaking confidence and storytelling expertise, all in a fun setting oriented around games and interactive play.
The theater recently moved three blocks down the street from its old space to a new location at 2728 Lyndale and, said Valerie Blomberg of HUGE, “We need to get the word out to the community that we moved and that HUGE Theater is alive, well and thriving.”
“We are planning our Open Streets participation to highlight these amazing successes to the broader community and to invite neighbors to come to our shows and to support local theater,” Blomberg added.
At Open Streets Lyndale, HUGE is offering a chalk-drawn street stage with amplified sound and various improvisational acts on the hour during the festival. In addition, cast members from various shows will arrive in Starfleet costumes from their show “Star Trek: the Next Improvisation.” “Of course, the theater also offers shows almost every night of the week, and tickets are cheaper than you might think,” said Blomberg.
Don’t look for a Hoop Jams booth. Instead, look along the route for members of this dance flow/hoop group interacting with those attending. “We supply hula hoops and other flow props for folks to use for fun. We supply the music as well,” said Raija Langhoff.
“This is our second year at Open Streets,” Langhoff said. “We love the energy and the connections we create there.” Hoop Jams has events, both indoors and out, all year long. Come and learn where and when you (and the kids) can show up for more chances to play.
Once known as Abi’s Café on Bloomington Avenue and East Lake Street, this popular restaurant is now located where The Egg and I once served customers, at 2828 Lyndale Ave.
“Participating in Open Streets 2023 will provide me with an opportunity to show the community who we are through the foods we are serving that day,” said Abi.
The restaurant at Open Streets Lyndale will have a special menu showcasing various Latin American foods. Get ready to sample dishes like pica pollo, a traditional Dominican fried chicken street food.
“Outside we will make pupusas on the spot and will have fresh roasted corn,” Abi said. Pupusas are Salvadoran corn flour pouches with various savory fillings.
The food and experience might be different than what you might expect, she explained. “For example, people expect that everyone who works here or comes to eat here are Mexicans. Sometimes we must remember we don’t all come from the same country. We are fortunate to have some very sweet and supporting regular clients from the community.”
“I am excited to bring this to Open Streets. It will be different and unique. This will be a perfect way to interact and be engaged with the community and to get to know each other better. This event truly strengths community as it influences people not only to find who lives around the neighborhood, but the event also supports local businesses,” Abi said.
Veterans for Peace
This group shows up to Open Streets each year in their easy-to-spot bus, giving out thousands of free multi-colored peace sign buttons, stickers and literature. “Open Streets has been a wonderful opportunity for us to meet the public and to answer, as best we can, any questions about our work,” said Dave Logsdon, the group’s president and a Vietnam War veteran.
“Over the years,” Logsdon said, “we have led or participated in hundreds of demonstrations throughout the state and beyond. Our mission is centered on arts, education and action as we find healing from our moral war-related injuries by telling our stories. Our all-volunteer group has been busy and since world peace does not appear to be imminent, we will remain busy for a while.”