Serendipity brought my friend and I to Main Street on Sunday, June 19th just in time for Vancouver’s Car-Free Day.
As usual, the story has a rather random start: a few months ago, this friend and I took a magic class and got to know this amazing magician who, oddly enough, doesn’t have too big of an ego to make friends. Unlike the mystical, distant, and perhaps narcissistic magician stereotype, he is more like an artist and a romantic. Like most artists and romantics, he is a happy-go-lucky doer of random things. For example, this month he decided to do a Send-Wonder Campaign and hand out 13 free magic bottles every Sunday of June. He posts his location as he walks down the street, waiting for people to find him and claim the bottles. I think it’s one of the most poetic things done by someone I personally know.
Although I have already bought a bottle myself, my friend remains bottleless. The first two Sundays, my friend had to work and I was busy with school. But this last Sunday, we set out to hunt him down.
As we drove down the busy Sunday streets, his bottles were disappearing at an unbelievable speed – 8 bottles were claimed within 2 blocks! As we slowly approached Main Street, something unexpected caught our eyes: a sign saying no cars allowed on Main Street! And not a single parking spot within two-block-radius of it. Something was definitely going on. Tens of thousands of people were walking and chatting on the road; stores had all set up stands outside; and I could hear music playing. As we finally found a place to park, we knew two things right away: 1) we had missed our magic bottle; and 2) we were more than glad that we came.
Apparently this Car-Free Festival started back in 2005, initially hosted by Commercial Drive; but it soon snowballed in popularity and is now happening within 4 different communities in the city. Many local artists and designers came to show their works, and I even saw my old friend Gorilla Food, as a member of the Veg Fest Vancouver. Car Free day was the first street party I’ve ever been to. Of course, it didn’t feel too much like a party party because people weren’t drinking or dancing, but it was wonderful nevertheless. I can’t wait for next year (when, being wiser, I’ll actually leave my car behind!).