Calgary Rocks the 'Walk

On one of the sunniest days of summer, RiverWalk celebrated its grand opening. And hundreds of Calgarians loved their ‘Walk.

It was the kind of day that RiverWalk was built for – a hot, cloudless Saturday in August. The city’s newest urban promenade, at the edge of the Bow River in the heart of East Village, was the perfect host for Calgarians of all ages and interests during Rock the ‘Walk, the official opening celebration of RiverWalk’s first phase. Curious locals turned out to see what had become of East Village, and many were wide-eyed in surprise. “It’s beautiful!” people said, blinking in the sunlight.

Although RiverWalk is relatively new – it opened to the public in November, 2010 – Calgarians already treat it like an old friend, cycling by the water, pulling rafts from the river to picnic on RiverWalk’s wide steps, chatting on benches, and relaxing on the ‘chill loungers’, the long green chaises on the ‘Walk’s observation decks. “It feels like RiverWalk’s always been here,” says Clare Nolan, manager, marketing and communications for CMLC, the master developer of East Village. “Yet it’s an enormous change for the neighbourhood and for all Calgarians.”

RiverWalk plaza, behind the Simmons Building, was the wide and inviting venue for Market Collective, whose vendors set up wares – from feather earrings to photography, bike rentals to t-shirts – under tents along both sides of the plaza. Fiasco Gelato did a brisk business in homemade chai and mango. Three bands – Meisha and the Spanks, Samantha Savage Smith and Kris Demeanor and his Crack Band entertained throughout the afternoon.

Calgarians celebrated a sunny Saturday in August along their very own RiverWalk – and began to discover that there’s a jewel of a neighbourhood in their midst.

Phase II of RiverWalk, between 3rd Street SE and the Centre Street Bridge, opens in late-September.