Participants soar above downtown Syracuse at the Connective Corridor's 'Zip Fest' Street Fair

The fair brought food trucks, zip lines and live entertainment to Forman Park in celebration of the launch of phase two of the Connective Corridor revitalization project.

The “Zip Fest” Street Fair was bustling in Syracuse’s Forman Park Sunday in honor of the launch of phase two of the Connective Corridor project. The four-hour block party had a mobile zip line, five food trucks, a massage station and live entertainment, and provided fun attractions for visitors of all ages.

Biboti Ouikahilo performs in drumming circle at Zip Fest.

Phase two of the Connective Corridor construction will stretch from Forman Park down to the Warehouse in Armory Square downtown. Phase two will start Monday, Nov. 4, and should take about 18 months, said Linda Hartsock, director of community engagement at Syracuse University.

“The idea is it’s a complete street scape,” said Hartsock. “So it’s literally from building to building, all new streets, new crosswalks, new granite curbs, brick pavers, new sidewalks, new bike lanes, bike benches, bus stops and benches.”

The block party brought visitors to the downtown area that will be revitalized by the Connective Corridor project. The most popular attraction was the free ride on the 28-foot-tall mobile zip line. Adventures In Climbing, an entertainment rental company, towed the large zip line just across the street from the Parkview Hotel on East Genesse Street. From the top of the line, riders could watch the cars drive by on Interstate 81 before plummeting down into the crowd. More than 100 people stepped into the harness and climbed up the stairs for the six-second ride.  Connected to the line by a single carabineer and holding on to the handle bar above their heads, people both young and old waited in the cold for their turn on the ride.

Sasha Gozan-Keck, 9, rode the zip line before her sister and cousins. It wasn’t her first time on a zip line, but she said that it was the biggest one she’s ever been on.  She screamed with excitement as she zipped 160 feet through the air.

“It was really scary, but fun,” she said as she tried to catch her breath.

Stephany Powell brought her mother, Alice Caughey, to “Zip Fest” for her 61st birthday. Powell sipped on her coffee as she watched her mother rip through the air.

“It felt like my heart was pounding out of my chest,” said Caughey.

Even though Powell didn’t ride the zip line, she said that she loved the live music. The sounds of the West African Drumming group Wacheva could be heard a mile away. They brought several percussion instruments for the community to enjoy including 18 Djembe drums, two cowbells, and two Shekeres. The three drummers, Biboti Ouikahilo, Osendah Michael and Kingsley Pipim, invited anyone to join the drum circle and be a part of the music.

For a while they were joined by Cheon Ji In, the SU Korean Traditional Drumming group. The collaboration of the two percussion groups attracted many onlookers as the music filled the air.

“It was cool to see them collaborate together,” said Powell.

The SU Korean drummers were just one of the student groups invited to perform at “Zip Fest.” Hartsock said she brought 10 different student groups with her to the event. There were multicultural groups, Caribbean hip-hop, dancers and more.

The SU Boxing Club put on a few demonstrations for people to watch as well. They showed off their quick jabs and nimble feet to the public in front of a tent where they sold SU boxing paraphernalia. 

There were a variety of food options thanks to the Food Truck Rodeo. Five different food trucks were open at “Zip Fest.” Options varied from tacos and nachos to chilli and burgers. Gannon's Isle had an ice cream stand open despite it being 39 degrees.

Hartsock said the purpose of phase two is to get people downtown. She said that phase two will “make downtown look better, make it more enjoyable, dynamic, vibrant and get people out on the streets and activating them.”

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