On Saturday, August 1st, downtown Kingston will once again be transformed into a pedestrian-friendly dream, thanks to the first of two planned Princess Street Promenade events of the Summer 2015. For the uninitiated, the concept behind the Promenade, is simple: close off a portion of Princess Street to vehicle traffic, and offer activities that attract a massive audience. Celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, the continued success and growth of the Princess Street Promenade should come as no surprise.
The Promenade is unique in many ways, but it isn’t the only local Summertime event which calls for massive street closures. Such examples include the recent finale to the Skeleton Park Arts Fest and Buskers Rendezvous, as well as the upcoming Blues Fest and the Sydenham Street Revived Pop-up Park. The undeniable popularity of these types of events is fueled in part by the unique opportunity they afford, where attendees are permitted to stand in the centre of the street and experience their surroundings from a new and exciting vantage point. With the success of Buskers, the Promenade and all the rest in mind, it really begs the question: why aren’t we doing more of these types of these accessible events more often?
Other cities have their own array of street festivals and events during the year, which necessitate similar car-free, pedestrian friendly measures. From Montreal’s Jazz Fest to Toronto’s Taste of the Danforth, there are countless variations to cite and gain inspiration from. A notable example that has recently been making a splash across North America is the huge spectacle known as Slide the City. This traveling road show has been making its way from one city to the next, transforming main thoroughfare’s of select downtowns into massive, 1,000 foot slip and slides.
Conquering the biggest slip and slide ever to hit asphalt isn’t free, but with prices ranging from $15/single ride to $55/super slide, it’s not too expensive to earn bragging rights. And they donate a portion of the event’s proceeds to local charities. Canadian cities such as Halifax, Montreal and Calgary already have dates set with the big slide, while Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Hamilton tease that theirs are coming soon. With Princess Street offering a near perfect slope to stage this slip and slide, which spans over 3 football fields, what if Kingston hosted Slide the City?
Whether we make Slide the City a standalone spectacle, or incorporate it into something such as Kingston’s Canada Day celebrations or better yet, Queen’s University’s Frosh Week, I think that it would be a huge success. While the opportunity to bring Slide the City to Kingston this Summer may be out of reach, we should be looking towards 2016 to bring the event here. Imagine, sliding down Princess Street with the wind in your hair and refreshing mist splashing on your face. Want to make that happen? Write Slide the City and let them know you want them to stop over in Kingston in the not too distant future.
Photo credit to Kevin Oliver.