Partners for Parks is taking support for Open Streets 704 to a new level – literally. The recently-announced Around the Crown 10k will benefit Open Streets 704 with a road race elevated above and around uptown Charlotte on the I-277 Inner Loop.
The 10k race, scheduled for 7:04 a.m. on Sunday, September 1st, 2019, will donate its proceeds to Partners for Parks to support the group’s signature event, Open Streets 704. The twice-yearly Open Streets 704 events are held each fall and spring in the Queen City, and have become wildly popular since they began in the spring of 2016. This spring’s Open Streets 704 will be held April 28, 1 – 5 p.m., on a popular NoDa-to-Plaza Midwood route.
“It’s going to be a real ‘first’ in Charlotte, a Road Race literally running ‘around the crown’ of Charlotte’s Center City,” says Partners for Parks Treasurer, Al Brown. Brown noted that the 10k race begins and ends in the “crown jewel park” of the center city, Romare Bearden Park. “We are very excited to be part of this wonderful event, and to be the beneficiary for this new, exciting 10k race.”
Partners for Parks is a non-profit that supports parks across the Charlotte region. Since forming in 1996, the public-private partnership has sponsored activities and helped other organizations by being a non-profit “fiduciary vehicle” that raises millions of dollars for regional park projects, recreation activities, summer camp sponsorships, greenway projects, and open spaces for learning and play.
Partners for Parks has been integral to the success of Open Streets 704 since the Knight Foundation donated $150,000 to bring the already-successful Open Streets concept to Charlotte. The organization worked closely with Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation, the City of Charlotte, and many public and private groups, to coordinate and help finance this ongoing event.
“Open Streets 704 is now one of Partners for Parks’ largest events, and also one of Charlotte’s most successful and FUN activities,” says Brown. “This public-private partnership is a perfect example of why Partners for Parks was formed.”
Funding is an important part of keeping Open Streets 704 available to the public for another great year. Initial grants from the Knight Foundation expired after the first year, and signing up sponsors has allowed the fun and popular program to continue.
“People of Charlotte enjoy Open Streets 704 as the biggest free event in the county, but it needs a sustainable financial model,” says Eleanor Shell, who coordinates funding for Open Streets 704 as part of Partners for Parks. Shell says sponsors and fundraising cover hard costs of the event, like traffic control, stage rentals, paid performers, portable toilets, and public safety workers like police and EMS.
“By having Around the Crown 10k raise money for Open Streets 704 through Partners for Parks,” says Shell, “it not only exposes Open Streets 704 to a larger audience, but also provides a funding source to help Open Streets 704 continue its strong presence in the future, and the long-term stability of the program.”
Open Streets 704 will also host information for runners interested in participating in the inaugural Around the Crown 10k, strengthening awareness of both events, says Around the Crown 10k founder and race director,Brian Mister. He says it makes sense to tie the two events together with the non-profit group, since all three focus on enjoying time outdoors.
“Being outside makes you smile, makes you happy, and makes you healthy,” says Brian. “It seems like such a simple way to improve your day, to go to a park.” Events like Around the Crown 10k and Open Streets 704 literally turn streets into linear parks for a few hours. More than 100 Open Streets festivals take place in cities across the country. “We want to support getting outdoors, any time we can,” he added.
Open Streets programs have proven to be successful at achieving goals related to recreation, public health, active transportation – like walking and biking – and community building. Open Streets 704 aims to build a better, healthier, more connected community by encouraging Charlotte and Mecklenburg-area residents to experience the city together in a way that’s just not possible in a car. More than 100,000 people have enjoyed Open Streets 704 since its inception in Charlotte in the spring of 2016.
The partnership jumped out as a natural fit to Brian Mister. “We’re not closing streets,” remarked Brian. “We’re opening them for other things!”
Registration for the inaugural Around the Crown 10k is available online at https://aroundthecrown10k.com