'Philly Free Streets' returns this weekend

CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- "Philly Free Streets" makes its return to the city on Saturday.

This is the third year for the outdoor event that promotes community and exercise.

Saturday morning from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. an eight mile, round-trip route, will be closed to all cars.

The public is invited to walk, bike and enjoy other actives from City Hall, several miles down to Butler Street in the heart of North Philadelphia.

Program manager Charlotte Castle says the event gets bigger and better every year.

"It's really a celebration of our streets as public spaces and an opportunity for us to invite neighbors to use walking and biking as forms of transportation," Castle said.

There is no formal start or finishing points. It's all about getting out and being active - minus the frustration of traffic.

The event highlights the impacts of a healthy city and the positive benefits it has on the environment, businesses and the community overall.

There will be lots do and explore along the route - even a makeshift beach will be setup along the streets of North Philadelphia.

"We will have sand, games, we will have a huge Scrabble board," said Shalimar Thomas, Executive Director of North Broad Renaissance. "We will have volleyball and hammocks for them to sit in. Think of beach slash in the hood... in the community."

"You can come and play any game you want," said Ellen Lissy Rosenberg of The Goldenberg Group. "If you don't want to touch the sand, that is fine. We've got plenty for you to do. We've also been able to bring in some of the partners we've been working with over the past four or five years in North Philadelphia. Tree House books is bring a thousand books to distribute to kids."

The free event has attracted thousands of people to Philadelphia in the past, allowing them to explore the neighborhoods and connect with the city.

For restaurants like Dwight's Southern Barbecue, Philly Free Streets is good for business. It means tons of foot traffic and the potential for new customers.

"One thing about it is that we are one big family and this event will allow us to show that family atmosphere," said Dwight Nelson of Dwight's Southern Barbecue. "We will get to step from behind the counter and come outside and interact with the people."

Organizers say if you don't have plans this weekend, you may want to make Philly Free Streets one of your destinations.

"Even if there are scattered showers it is going to be a great day. You're going to see so many smiles, you're going to experience the city in a different way than you get to any other time, and it's our first time on Broad Street - it's historic. It's grand and not a day to be missed," said Castle.

For more information visit: www.phillyfreestreets.com

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