It's not often you can find an outdoor yoga class on one block in Omaha, a violinist on another and a fencing demonstration across the street.
Open Streets Omaha, an organization that encourages physical activity and community engagement, is providing that opportunity this weekend during Omaha Play Streets.
Nine blocks on Farnam Street, between 10th and 19th Streets, will be closed to traffic and transformed into “a play space” on Saturday morning. There will be exercise classes, music, crafts and other activities, starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 2 p.m. The event is free.
“We want to show (Omaha) how vibrant our community is and how we can use our spaces in an active way,” said Lisa Dworak, the City of Omaha Play Streets coordinator.
The downtown event is the third of four in Omaha this summer.
The Aksarben Village event in central Omaha attracted more than 5,000 people at the first Play Streets event in April, and South Omaha hosted the second along 24th and L Streets in May. More than 3,000 people attended. Organizers expect at least that many this weekend. They hope for as many as 5,000 during the 7-hour event, which is happening down the street from the Omaha Farmer's Market.
Each block will feature several themed activities. At the greens and garden hub, there will be cooking demonstrations and taste-testing. Kids always get a kick out of the purple broccoli, Dworak said.
There's a Body Attack fitness class at 8:30 a.m., a Zumba class at 10:15 a.m. and three free yoga sessions at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and noon.
Rock walls and skateboarding ramps will be available. There will be spots designated for traditional games like four square and hopscotch, too.
The bike hub will offer free safety checks and bike parking, as well as a craft station that makes wind chimes out of recycled bicycle parts.
Local artists, ranging from violinists to slam poets to break dancers, will also perform. Organizers are encouraging anyone with an instrument to come and play.
“It's everyone's event,” Dworak said. “Make it your own.”
“We're not trying to entice people to be active with extravagant playground equipment. It's simple fun. You don't need a lot to be active.”
Omaha was one of 10 cities in the U.S. to receive a $50,000 Play Streets grant through the Partnership for a Healthier America to host four events this summer. More than 50 cities applied.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, the City of Omaha Parks and Recreation Department, Live Well Omaha and the National Parks Foundation helped sponsor the events. More than 50 local organizations are participating.
For more information and to see a full list of available activities, click here.
The fourth and final Omaha Play Streets event is Aug. 24 in north Omaha.
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