This tunnel’s made for singin’

October 1, 2014 

This tunnel, minus the cars, will be the site of one of CicLAvia's more unusual entertainment offerings.

If you’ve ever made your way through the 2nd Street tunnel in downtown Los Angeles, you know that it can be drab, grey, even a little spooky.

But this Sunday, thanks to the transformative car-free magic that is CicLAvia, the tunnel will turn into something else: a musical performance space echoing with the sounds of pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly numbers like “These Boots are Made for Walkin,’ ” Queen’s “Bicycle Race” and “Walkin’ on Sunshine.”

A group called Public Space Singalong is preparing to serenade those who pass through the tunnel—on bike or on foot—with lively tunes from the 1950s through the 1980s, as musicians provide accompaniment on guitar, violin, snare drum and accordion.

Jessica Cowley, the group’s founder, said everyone is welcome to join in—musical talent optional.

“It’s an opportunity to make music with other people in a really low-stakes situation,” Cowley said. “Everything gets lost when there are 40 people. You don’t even have to sing well.”

Cowley, an urban planner by trade, started the group in 2013 to use public spaces in a new way and bring back what she calls a lost tradition—creating music with the community. They’ve sung in the 2nd Street tunnel before, but this time the slower pace of bicycles and walkers should encourage more people to stop and have a listen. The pedestrian group Los Angeles Walks is coordinating their outing with the singers, and will arrive at noon to join in.

Public song is just one of the activities planned for Sunday’s open streets extravaganza. Bike safety classes, the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture, interactive poetry, live music, and rock climbing are all part of the day’s offerings, which will be held throughout the event’s sprawling ”Heart of L.A.” route.

Food will be prominently featured, too. In August, CicLAvia’s organizers got mouths watering in advance with a food photo contest that featured dishes from eateries along the route. In addition to the restaurants, attendees can get their grub on at gourmet food trucks, which will be stationed at event “hubs,” or at the Historic Core Farmers Market, which is located nearby.

It all takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Sunday, October 5. This will be the 10th edition of CicLAvia, which regularly draws crowds in excess of 100,000. It won’t be the last, though—on December 7, the event heads to South L.A. before making its first-ever trip to the San Fernando Valley in the spring of 2015.

Posted 10/1/14

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