San Francisco city and community leaders today invited Bay Area residents to “come play in the streets” as part of the Sunday Streets program scheduled to kick off along the Embarcadero later this month.

Representatives from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office and various community groups gathered this afternoon in Aquatic Park to discuss the locations of the activities and events offered on select Sundays through September.

Wade Crowfoot, director of climate protection initiatives for Newsom’s office, discussed the importance of providing free recreational activities for families in the midst of an ailing economy.

“We don’t want economic challenges to be an excuse to abandoning the program,” Crowfoot said.

The Sunday Streets program aims to build on the success of last year’s two events in which approximately 20,000 people participated in free physical activities along a 4.5-mile stretch of roadway between the Bayviewlast year’s pilot programs a “tremendous success” and said that the business owners along the closure routes who had initially expressed concern about vehicle access to popular shopping areas such as Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf were committed to the program when they saw the impressive turnout.

Shahum said the concept behind Sunday Streets was modeled after a 30-year-old program with roots in Bogota, Colombia. The idea, Shahum said, is to “bring the parks to the people” by making the best use of open space and promoting physical exercise for residents to continue on a regular basis.

“It’s about integrating ideas into your lifestyle,” Shahum said.

The kickoff event is scheduled for April 26 with activities spanning 3.4 miles of open space from Aquatic Park to AT&T Park. Activities will include dance and yoga classes along the route, a “running the bases” activity at AT&T Park, a fitness and health fair in Aquatic Park featuring a climbing wall, super slide, face painting and balloon sculptures, musical performances in front of Pier 39, and roller skating at Justin Herman Plaza.

The kickoff event will necessitate the closure of the Bayside portion of the Embarcadero between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. to provide routes for residents to walk, jog, bike, dance and participate in group exercises.

Sunday Streets routes for the rest of the year are planned for May 10, along the southeast waterfront from AT&T Park to the Bayview Opera House and highlighting the San Francisco Bay Trail; June 7 and July 19, an as-yet-unannounced route through the Mission District; Aug. 9 and Sept. 6, along the Great Highway at Ocean Beach, between Golden Gate Park and the San Francisco Zoo.

Approximately $70,000 will be expended for each event, funded through private donations from local companies, Crowfoot said.

The initiative is a collaborative effort between more than 50 community groups, including the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and local transportation-oriented nonprofit group Livable City.

More information about the program, including upcoming events and detour routes, can be accessed online at

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