DENVER — The first of four planned ¡Viva! Streets Denver street fair events was held Sunday, shutting down about 3.5 miles of Broadway to cars and encouraging people to come out on foot, bike and scooter to enjoy vendors and community.
While a rainy start to the day made the walks and rides a bit soggier than some participants had hoped, several told Denver7 they were sold on the mission and excited for future events.
“It’ll be fun when it gets going a little bit,” said Brian Roland, who biked the event. “It might take a time or two to get people acquainted with what’s going on. But yeah, when it takes hold, it’s a lot of fun.”
Denver closes streets to cars for first in a series of ¡Viva! Streets events
¡Viva! Streets Denver is produced by the Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP), which called the event a “success” on its website and said it “can’t wait to see you” at the next planned event on June 4. It is also seeking feedback from those who attended to get a better understanding of who attended, what they enjoyed and what they would like to see changed or improved.
A spokesperson for the Downtown Denver Partnership said feedback so far has been “overwhelmingly positive,” and that no changes to the route will be made.
A hope for ¡Viva! Streets Denver is to boost foot traffic downtown and in local businesses. After the events and dates were announced, however, some small businesses told Denver7 they worried their bottom lines would take a hit from the loss of car traffic.
Event aims to close 3.5-mile stretch of Broadway to cars, worrying businesses
Luke Johnson, president of the Broadway Merchants Association, said feedback from member businesses following the event has been a “mixed bag.”
“We had some businesses that felt like it was great for foot traffic and sales, and then we had, obviously, quite a few businesses that didn’t see the foot traffic convert into sales,” Johnson told Denver7. “But, you know, the good news is that almost everyone said there was more foot traffic than normal. And we had weather issues, so we had a lot lower turnout than we might have had with good weather. And it was Mother’s Day, too. And so, you know, we’re kind of hopeful that upcoming events without those two things — maybe the foot traffic will be higher and it’ll convert into sales for businesses.”
One frustration Johnson said many member businesses shared from the weekend regarded parking. He said his businesses reported the parking meters near their shops were covered with red bags nearly all weekend. Businesses said this was an impact to both employees and customers on Saturday.
“All day Saturday, merchants didn’t have parking out front, and the bags weren’t taken off, in most cases, until Monday morning,” Johnson said. “So, we had a six hour event — we didn’t have parking on all of Broadway for two-and-a-half days, basically. So, that was really the one glaring issue, that we’re just like, "Dang, that was frustrating."”