Greenway Parade Arts of 2001: Arts, Culture, Diversity Descend upon the Midtown Greenway

A puppeteer entertains Parade of Arts visitors along the Greenway.

A puppeteer entertains Parade of Arts visitors along the Greenway.

They Came, They Saw
Drawing nearly 10,000 people on one of the hottest days of the year, residents of all ages, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds came to the Greenway Parade of Arts, many of whom were first time visitors. Featuring a wide variety of entertainment and activities including live music, performance art and dance, and hands-on art displays and opportunities, the event built on the MCW Partnership’s desire to redefine the perception of the Greenway as an historic yet contemporary open space reflecting the many faces of those that live here. Add poetry, juggling, puppetry, body art and canvas murals engaging hundreds of participants, and you have a community gala with evident staying power.

“We wanted to attract a mix of people who live and work in the neighborhoods surrounding the Midtown Greenway as well as people from the greater Twin Cities area interested in the arts,” Tom Borrup, Executive Director of Intermedia Arts, emphasized. “The event offered us more than the chance to promote public art and artists, it provided an opportunity to really draw attention to the Greenway and inform people of the many assets of the communities that surround it.”

Wheels as Art
The seventh annual Wheels as Art Parade, the yearly procession of the city’s most artistic and authentically designed automobiles cruising down Lake Street, acted as the established event to nurture the newly born “Parade.” Thousands of people followed the cars down from Lake Street to the 5th Avenue staging area and proceeded to move steadily through the Greenway. For one of the first times in history, the pedestrian traffic on the Greenway was equal to that on the street level; the two naturally complimented and amplified one another.

Many contributed to the success of the event, including the more than 100 community volunteers. Target Corporation was the major sponsor of the event, contributing funds, staff and promotional design support. “The Parade of Arts event is part of a much larger goal of bringing a distinct and memorable feeling to the Midtown Greenway,” commented Nate Garvis, Vice President of Government Affairs for Target Corp. “Public art plays a major role in the redevelopment of the Midtown Greenway and how we define ourselves long into the future.”

An Event for Years to Come
As the MCW Partnership and Intermedia Arts look forward to supporting the event next year, they will take into consideration the feedback received from travelers through the Greenway who responded to surveys. Suggestions included having community restaurants provide food booths, and bi-lingual promotion of the event to engage more non-English speaking people. When asked what they would like to see in the Greenway ten years from now, respondents envisioned more art, more trees, flowers and landscaping and more drinking fountains.

For MCW Co-Chair Gordon Sprenger, the success of the Parade of Arts is a sign that the Greenway Corridor “is fast becoming an enviable urban amenity and community asset.”

“While it’s a unique place,” noted Sprenger, “the spirit, enthusiasm and artistic expression of Greenway neighborhood residents are its greatest strengths.”