Photo by Elizabeth O'Guin
By Mary Kate Sheppard, Staff Writer—
River City Company has come up with ways for Chattanoogans to enjoy Fall in a COVID-friendly way with their Riverfront Scavenger Hunt and Open Streets.
Closures are planned for the roads connecting the Riverfront to provide a safe area for families to enjoy the Tennessee River while social distancing. The roads closing include Riverfront Parkway from Power Alley to East Aquarium Way, along with one block of Chestnut Street from Aquarium Way down to Riverfront Parkway on Sundays. Closures will last from 8 am to 8:30pm beginning Oct. 18 and continuing through Nov. 8.
Amy Donahue is the director of marketing and communication at River City Company.
“It’s an opportunity to provide community members with a large, outdoor space where they can safely spread out and not worry about issues surrounding traffic,” Donahue said.
This effort is part of a larger potential endeavor that suggests closing down roads by Riverfront Parkway closest to the RiverFront. While there are no permanent plans at the moment, this effort, called ONE Riverfront, is being used as a way to see how people will react to the lack of traffic.
“One strong theme we’ve heard from community members so far is that Riverfront Parkway is uncomfortable,” Donahue said. “Whether that’s fears for the speed of traffic, type of traffic like large trucks or simply that the traffic can be loud and detract from the area, it’s clear that the road cutting through the great park space of Ross’ Landing and the Chattanooga Green isn’t ideal for all users. Open Streets is just a way for community members to experience the area car free and see if it’s something that resonates.”
Along with Open Streets, sponsors like Elliott Davis and First Horizon Foundation have helped create a Riverfront Chattanooga Scavenger Hunt.
This scavenger hunt will take place until November 15 and will begin at Starbucks at The Block on Broad Street and will include ten stops on the route to the Riverfront.
Contestants are also eligible to receive a $500 Riverfront prize package. The scavenger hunt is COVID-safe and uses virtual QR codes that participants can scan with their phone. Everytime a QR code is scanned, a trivia question about the Riverfront will pop up along with some opinion options.
“While we would traditionally host big public meetings or attend neighborhood association meetings, and more all around town to gather insight, those opportunities aren’t an option right now,” Donahue said. “And while we continue to do a lot of community outreach through virtual formats, this also gives us another tool to gather people’s thoughts, perceptions and future hopes for the Riverfront.”
Donahue also explained the ways Open Streets and the Riverfront Scavenger Hunt help promote business owners in downtown.
“We want to safely drive people to the Riverfront in hopes that they patron surrounding businesses while there,” she said. “So maybe as a part of the Scavenger Hunt experience, people will grab a coffee, ice cream or dinner from a Riverfront business. All of our small businesses are hurting right now, and we want to safely support these important downtown stakeholders when we can.”
River City Co. is making an effort to bring people together while still taking safety precautions, all while they try to see how people react to the closures and changes in the downtown area.