Downtown event expects to draw big interest

HARLINGEN — Downtown Harlingen is inviting the world to “Come Play in the Street.”

Modeled after Austin’s and Brownsville’s successful festivals, Viva Streets Harlingen on April 23 will shut down Jackson Avenue between South Commerce and Sixth Street. Sixth Street will close to the north from Jackson to the library.

“We wanted to bring something to Harlingen to get people excited to be on the road, to be on the street,” said J. Joel Garza Jr., director of the Harlingen-San Benito Metropolitan Planning Organization. The planning group is sponsoring the event.

“Obviously, safety is important, and that’s why we’re closing the street,” Garza added. “We’ll be allowing any healthy activity to be conducted on the street itself.”

Those include a 5K race for runners, and a 1K run-walk. Also, a bike rodeo will be held, along with skateboarder activities. Crossfit and Zumba are on the agenda for the day, and live music will be offered as well.

Food trucks will be on hand for festival-goers, and water stations will be available.

The street fest will open with the 5K race beginning at 9 a.m. The events will shut down at 2 p.m. and the streets will re-open.

“We’re very pleased they chose to host this even in the downtown area,” said Cheryl LaBerge, downtown manager for the city of Harlingen. “I know there were other parts of town they considered … but I think the businesses are excited, and they think it will bring a new audience to downtown.”

Entry to the festival is free.