The 41st Grand Old Day is tomorrow, Sunday, June 1, 2014. The event runs from eight in the morning until six in the evening on a 2.3 mile stretch of Saint Paul’s Grand Avenue, with Wheeler Avenue at the west end and Dale Street at the east end.
Grand Old Day is the Grand Avenue Business Association’s annual fundraiser. This summary of the Association’s history is a short but interesting read. It is free for the public to attend, although access to the Festival Gardens (aka access to beer and live music) requires a $8 wristband. Up to 275,000 people are expected to turn out this year.
Grand Old Day is great for people watching and experiencing Grand Avenue at pedestrian scale, without cars parked along the sidewalks and taking up the street. It reminds me of a cross between Open Streets Minneapolis / Saint Paul and the street dances in my Wisconsin hometown. I have attended most Grand Old Days since I moved to Saint Paul eight years ago, and below are my tips for enjoying this carfree event.
Do’s and Don’ts of Grand Old Day
- DO check out past streets.mn posts about Grand Avenue such as Grand Avenue and Syndicate Intersection Needs Improvement and How To Mitigate Grand Avenue’s Parking Problem to learn about issues facing this commercial district and popular street.
- DO come to the parade that starts at 9:30 am and wave hello to Nice Ride Minnesota and Saint Paul Walks representatives, several of whom are streets.mn writers! If you can’t make it, watch the 2012 parade in 60 seconds here.
- DO sample Grand Avenue restaurants open that day, including Khyber Pass Cafe (Afghani cuisine near Snelling Avenue) and Everest on Grand (Indian, Nepali and Tibetan cuisine across from Kowalski’s Market).
- DON’T bring your dog. The event is crowded, making it very hard to avoid other dogs/people who don’t want to be in contact with your pet. Bring your dog to Paws on Grand on August 3rd instead.
- DON’T drive, especially in the neighborhood. Your blood pressure will thank you. Download a free Metro Transit ride, park your bike on the Ayd Mill Bridge for free or use Nice Ride to get to one of these docking stations on Grand Avenue at Fairview Avenue, between Cambridge and Macalester Streets, at Kowalski’s Market, at Milton Street (where it intersects with Summit Avenue, not Grand Avenue), and Dale Street. Use the bike lanes on Summit to avoid the heavy and often slow pedestrian traffic on Grand Avenue.
- DON’T have high expectations for the free shuttle bus service, which runs on Summit Avenue between Cretin Avenue and Dale Street. Yes, shuttle buses will stop on the corners of Cambridge, Saratoga, Syndicate, Oxford, Victoria, and St. Albans from 9 am to 7 am. However, riders are advised to “expect a 30 minute wait for a shuttle as Summit gets very congested during the event,” which is a conservative estimate in my experience.
Thank you to Nick Busse for giving permission to use his photo from this post.