LES Bike Parade 2008

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Published in The Villager

From tikes to teens, dozens of kids pedaled through the East Village on tricked out bikes last Saturday in the LES Kids Bike Parade. Since September the East Village Community Coalition held ten free workshops for making “art bikes,” lead by local artists Cindy Ruskin. Eight year-old Bella Rose Reid had help decorating a bike with tufts of fake bright green grass sprouting from the frame and wheel spokes encrusted with colorful butterflies.

I’ve never seen so many decorated bikes in one space,” said Kate Spaulding, the managing director of the EVCC. “I’m thrilled.”

Noemi Mariani and her 2-year-old granddaughter Brianna Chapin showed off a stroller decked out with tiny toy cars to represent the New York City’s congestion. “You have to teach them when they’re young,” said, “so that they’ll go and teach others who don’t know.” Mariani had a bike helmet strapped on to show her 2-year-old granddaughter the importance of safety–even though she walked to the park pushing the stroller.

“It’s obviously inspired her imagination, ” said Caroline Shepard about her daughter Dodi Shepard. Dodi, 5, was absorbed in decorating a pink bicycle with matching pipe cleaners, crepe streamers and baubles dangling from the seat. “She’s enjoying it more than actually riding her bicycle.”

For Harvey Van Blerkom, the fun was all about wheels. “He wasn’t riding a bike before we came today,” said Larry Van Blerkom, the father. He watched his son figure out how to balance after the bike instructor removed the training wheels and the pedals. “He realized he could stay up without the pedals and they put them back on and he was fine,” Larry said. By the middle of the day, Harvey was zipping around Tompkins Square Park in figure eights.

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