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Walktoberfest

Get out and walk!

Gail Ghezzi Design

Gail Ghezzi Design

Jakob Greenman, Staff Writer

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This past month was October and in  Ridgewood, it has been known by some people as Walktober, an initiative started a few years ago to encourage students to walk to school more. This year, Walktoberfest expanded into themed guided tours, so residents can walk and connect with the town and people. It also encourages people to walk downtown and energize the businesses. Throughout the month, a group called Ridgewood Walks have been organizing tours of different interests in the town. Jeanne Johnson, founder of Ridgewood Walks, came up with the idea of having tours. The other people involved are local volunteers who organize the themes for their tours.

 

They also reached out to business owners and the local government. There have been people signing up to tour various businesses and places that include restaurants, jewelry stores, pizza places, desert places, coffee shops, stables, etc. The tour guides, all volunteers, take their groups to multiple places to meet shop owners or other people who represent places they visit. For example, if you signed up for the pizza place tour, the guide would take you around while you sample different pieces of pizza, at many places.

 

With historic buildings, a tour guide will take you on a more intellectual tour and teach you more specific things about multiple buildings or places. A Ridgewood councilman did a tour of Graydon Pond and the old “Stable” in Ridgewood. The mayor of Ridgewood is also doing a tour of the Recycling Center. Other towns have something called Walktoberfest, but Ridgewood is unique by including walking tours.

 

Jeanne’s hope is that people all over the country will get out of their homes and connect more often with their neighbors.It is also a good way to keep local businesses healthy. Since it’s October, there have been tours to take people to Ridgewood’s Haunted Maze, but not on Halloween. On Halloween, there is a daytime tour of Old Paramus Church, and the cemeteries surrounding it. As of October 22, there are almost 400 spots reserved for tours. Next year, there will hopefully be a lot more people involved, a lot more tours, and more preparation. Next year promises to be even bigger and better.

 

BF Bolt Staff sat down with  Gail Ghezzi, designer of Walktoberfest logo and website to get some more information.

What is Walktoberfest’s main purpose?

It’s to encourage people to walk, especially in downtown, to energize the businesses, and to connect residents and neighbors.

Who is involved with this and why? What are the jobs of the different people for this project?

Jeanne Johnson, founder of Ridgewood Walks and the person who had the idea for the tours. The other people involved are local volunteers who organize the themes for their tours. They also reached out to business owners and the local government.

Is anybody trying to spread Walktoberfest further than Ridgewood, or is it already in other towns?

Other towns have something called Walktoberfest, but I’m not sure if they include walking tours. Jeanne’s hope is that people all over the country will get out of their homes and connect more often with their neighbors. It’s also a good way to keep local businesses healthy.

How does somebody volunteer to lead a tour of their interest?

They can go to ridgewoodwalks.com and email us. Then we can have a discussion about the theme and the different locations to tour.

About how many people have signed up for tours so far? How do you think this number will change next year and why?

As of now, there are almost 400 spots reserved for tours. I think there will be a lot more people involved, a lot more tours, and we’ll have to prepare and organize earlier in the year.

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