Showers mark Sunday Streets’ season finale in Energy Corridor
One of life’s undiscovered pleasures might be riding a scooter down an empty suburban thoroughfare, with not a car or a care in sight.
“It gives kind of a level of freedom,” said Christian Schick, whose young daughters, Sofia, 7, and Brennan, 5, were doing just that on a drizzly Sunday afternoon in west Houston.
For four hours, the city of Houston’s Cigna Sunday Streets event shut down more than a mile along Eldridge Parkway in the Energy Corridor so families like the Schicks could scoot, stroll and enjoy the sight of an empty traffic artery. In its fourth season, the Sunday Streets event coaxes Houston residents outside and into local shopping centers by blocking traffic, sponsoring entertainment and food. But the Eldridge Parkway event, now in its second year, has proven to be one of the most popular, said Paula McHam, the community involvement lead for Cigna in South Texas. Last year, an estimated 25,000 people showed up, McHam said.
But unlike last year’s sunny skies, Sunday in the Energy Corridor was gray and humid. A mile down the road, near Buffalo Bayou, yellow tape blocked an apartment complex with flood debris scattered around it. A section of the Eldridge neighborhood had been evacuated during Hurricane Harvey, when Buffalo Bayou flooded and releases from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs pushed flood waters in the neighborhood even higher.
Christian Schick and his wife Christine said they were lucky - they had some floodwaters in a portion of their house, but had to only partially replace their sheetrock. They don’t have flood insurance. Sunday gave them a chance to talk with their favorite children’s librarian from the Kendall Neighborhood Library, which has been closed since it flooded during Harvey.
Any respite from the stress of flood recovery is welcome in the Energy Corridor, said Clark Martinson, the executive director of the neighborhood’s management district.
“I guess you could say - like winning the World Series - it’s having something else to think about,” he said of Sunday’s street fair.
Martinson also misses the Kendall library, where the Sunday Streets planning committee used to meet in past years. Instead, the group relocated to the local Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen, which had also been flooded and closed for roughly two weeks for repairs.
But memories of Harvey didn’t overshadow the event, even as the drizzle turned to rain. Tina Loetcher and Samira Duske were strolling down Eldridge behind their husbands and children, under the protection of a big rainbow umbrella. They both live nearby but on Sunday discovered restaurants they had never visited. They blended into a crowd filled with strollers, bikes, scooters and couples enjoying something that never happens in Houston - no traffic.