On a perfect October day in San Antonio, First Friday preparations were visible by early afternoon as street artists and vendors began to unpack their wares and stake out their places on South Alamo Street in Southtown.

Midtown was a different story: Digital street signs advised commuters that Broadway would be closed most of Sunday as tens of thousands of cyclists, walkers, trikes, parents pushing jogging strollers, inline skaters, skateboarders, dog walkers, and interesting characters aboard random, self-propelled devices take to the streets. Look for the man and skeleton aboard a recumbent bike, bound to make an appearance so close to Dia del los Muertos and Halloween. This is going to be great weekend to be outdoors in San Antonio.

Síclovía 2012
Man and skeleton enjoy a ride down Broadway during the second Síclovía. Photos by Robert Rivard.

I once asked a group of young creatives gathered to talk about life in San Antonio to give me their number one issue with the city. “There’s nothing to do,” someone said, which after some conversation, translated to “there isn’t enough to do for people who want to go out on any given night and find stimulating public happenings. “What are you looking for when deciding what to do when you do go out?” I asked. “Cheap or free,” one young woman shot back without a second thought.

Well, then: This is going to be a great Cheap or Free Weekend in San Antonio.

Síclovía III

The third edition of Síclovía is expected to draw as many as 50,000 people to a four-mile stretch of Broadway that reaches from north of Mulberry in Mahncke Park at Parland down to Alamo Plaza. The event begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Opening ceremonies this time will be in Alamo Plaza, where Mayor Julián Castro and other dignitaries are expected to kick things off. But come a few hours early to get in a good run. New event: This edition of Síclovía includes an 8 a.m. Síclovía 5K Run/Walk that also starts in the Alamo Plaza. Clink on the link for details regarding registration.

Coming downtown by car with your bike? Take Tx. 281 south and exit anywhere from Hildebrand, Mulberry, or McCullough and park on a side street and pedal over to Broadway. If you’re coming down I-10 you ought to find a spot in Southtown and ride your bike from a neighborhood street to Alamo Plaza.

The Ciclovía movement started in Bogotá, Colombia in the 1980s, and today the capital city shuts down 70 miles of street and avenues with other Colombian cities following suit. The movement has since gone global, and a growing number of U.S. cities of all sizes have organized their own events. San Antonio held its first Síclovía on Oct. 2 last year and another on March 4. El Paso, as far as I know, was the first Texas city to close it streets for a bikefest back in 2007 and now holds weekly Scenic Sunday bike-only events. Austin and Fort Worth have followed with their own initial events.

The four-mile stretch of Broadway offers more of a relaxed pedal that a hard-core workout. The street will be filled with family and kids, hipsters, boomers and seniors, and lots of pedestrians and cyclists clustering around the many Reclovías, or stopping spots, located along the route. Everything from live music acts to Zumba classes to a Kid’s Zone to food trucks will vie for your attention. Expanded zones in Maverick Park, Lion’s Park and Mahncke Park will offer everything from H-E-B-sponsored health and wellness clinics to impromptu workout classes and fitness tests. Here’s a site map.

Plenty of boarders mixed with bikes and pedestrians
A pair of skateboarders enjoying a balmy Sunday cruise on March 4.

Alamo City Health Day

Foodies: Pedal to the Pearl if good food and wine and rubbing elbows with some of the city’s top chefs sounds good. Always wanted to talk one-on-one with a registered dietitian? Now’s your chance. H-E-B is sponsoring an afternoon packed with events built around food that is both delicious and nutritious, all part of a larger program to make San Antonio a healthier city. The feasting starts with the Culinaria Feastival at the Pearl Amphitheater from 12-3 p.m. Advance tickets available at H-E-B stores are $20, tickets at the door are $35.

After Culinaria, make your way over to the historic Pearl Stables for the 2012 H-E-B Slimdown Showdown. I’ve been amazed at the public interest in the 25 contestants from all over South Texas who have spent the last 16 weeks enrolled in this H-E-B designed and financed wellness program. Perhaps it’s the $10,000 grand prize for the contestant who achieves the greatest weight loss and fitness gains, but local media in small towns all over this part of the state have been following “their contestant” as they’ve labored to shed pounds and get fit. Obesity is touchy subject, but the popularity of the program demonstrates there are ways to address this public health epidemic without subjecting people to undignified attention. I’ll be applauding loudly for the winner.

Year of Jazz: The Grand Finale

After the outdoor activities, the food, the wine, the big day on Broadway, head over to Trinity University’s Laurie Auditorium for a late afternoon and early evening of free jazz, courtesy of Jazz 91.7 FM. Sunday’s music is the culmination of the first Year of Jazz, a new program that kicked off in the Sunken Gardens. The program features the second public performance of the San Antonio Jazz Suite composed by Aaron Prado and a performance by the legendary Jim Cullum Jazz Band. The band has been playing great jazz for 50 years now. Cullum is one of San Antonio’s great cultural treasures.

There’s a lot more happening in the city this weekend, but this is The Rivard Report’s guide to a great Cheap and Free Sunday. See you out there.

Follow Robert Rivard on Twitter @rivardreport or on Facebook.

Robert Rivard, co-founder of the ISF FORUM who retired in 2022, has been a working journalist for 46 years. He is the host of the bigcitysmalltown podcast.

One reply on “‘Cheap or Free': Let the Sunday Games Begin”

  1. Thank you for great coverage, as always. I'm following up simply because this First Friday was especially dangerous for the King William area. Cars were lined on both sides of the street as far as the high school. While most people would not consider this a problem, it is not legal to park on the corner because it obstructs the view of drivers. More importantly, when there are solid cars parked on both sides of the narrow streets, there is not room for two-way traffic or emergency vehicles. Please understand that I am not anti-business because a mix of residential and commercial is histori. I am pro safety.

Comments are closed.