Sunrise On SunLink Streetcar Weekend Rolls Forward This Friday!
July 24, 2014
by James J. Jefferies
Unless you’ve just emerged from a cave, or been engaged in some kind of personal media blackout for, oh, most of the last decade, you’re probably aware that Tucson has been steadily preparing itself for the launch of the brand new SunLink modern streetcar for a long time now. Since late last fall, the streetcars themselves have been a regular sight for people from the Mercado to Main Gate Square, rolling smoothly along the tracks with those large yellow signs that read ‘TESTING’.
The testing signs, at long last, are bound for the dustbin of history, and a brand new era of public transit and community spirit is about to dawn here in the Old Pueblo. July 25th will be the day passengers can finally board our newest local fixture, and the official City of Tucson ribbon-cutting ceremony, presided over by Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and a galaxy of dignitaries, will commence at 9am on Congress St. at 5th Ave.
“One of the surprising feelings that a lot of us seem to be having is sentimentality,” said Joy Herr-Carrillo, spokesperson for the Friends of the Tucson Streetcar. “When we think of what we faced when we first proposed fixed rail for Tucson back in the early 2000s- the resistance and how difficult it was to get people to take us seriously, it’s just great to see the community embracing the streetcar. We find ourselves… just appreciating the commitment among all of us that brought us to this day.”
Of course, there will be smaller inaugural celebrations, beginning at 7am at the Mercado, rippling along the line through the UA, Main Gate Square, and 4th Avenue, culminating in the big dedication at Congress and 5th Avenue. The general public is welcome to attend all of these events, with the ribbon-cutting being just the tip of the iceberg for a very robust weekend of SunLink-related celebrations.
The following is a small breakdown of some key highlights along the line, but by no means a fully comprehensive list of what you can do this entire weekend of July 25th-27th, when you can ride the brand new SunLink streetcar for FREE. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the FREE Connect In The City discount cards, which will be given away at the Pop Up Beach, and would come in quite handy as you celebrate with more than 110 participating merchants this weekend!
DOWNTOWN– Besides the aforementioned ribbon-cutting, Downtown and The Beach (MLK Lot) will be rockin’ all weekend long with Friday the 25th’s Summer Beach Party (4pm-1am), Food in Root Farmers Market Saturday afternoon, Hotel Congress’ Wet Hot American Block Party on Saturday the 26th (9pm-2am), and The Beach will be available for fun and games on Sunday the 27th (9pm-10pm). There will also be a Streetcar History Presentation at the Roy Place Building each day at 2pm, and a whole host of events at businesses throughout Downotwn! See a full list here.
MERCADO SAN AUGUSTIN– Friday the 25th means Beer & Brats Night (6p-Midnight), along with DJ Dirty Verbs, Hey Bucko, Mariachi bands and breakdancers tearing it up all night long! Saturday the 26th brings Chica Dust (6pm-8pm), a Karaoke Party (10pm-midnight), and more! Sunday the 27th means Beats and Brunch (10am-2pm).
4TH AVENUE– There will be sidewalk sales all weekend long, in addition to a giant movie screen at Antigone Books on Friday and Saturday (7pm-midnight), in addition to live music at Magpies Pizza, Delectables, Chocolate Iguana, and Haggerty Plaza, and a light show at Spencer Park (7pm-midnight).
MAIN GATE SQUARE– Get jazzed in the city with live jazz music on Friday and Saturday at Geronimo Plaza (7-8:30pm), a mosaic scavenger hunt and a drawing for a limited edition streetcar ornament hosted at Ben’s Bells on Sunday (10am-2pm), and events hosted by the Civic Orchestra of Tucson at Geronimo Plaza (4pm-6pm).
THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA– Arizona’s First University will be getting into the spirit of things, with special events planned for the UAMC Farmers’ Market, the Arizona State Museum, the Center for Creative Photography, the UA Museum of Art, and the Flandrau Science Center. Please check out individual venues for specifics!
Again, and this cannot be stressed enough- this is but a tiny, tiny smidgen of the enormous spate of events planned for this weekend. Just about every business and merchant along the route has some kind of thing planned. This will be a day long remembered throughout the entire city, and for more details on anything from the events calendar to actual nuts and bolts on ridership, check out the latest info at SunLink.