Photographs by John Murray

Six-year-old Jordan Hulse clapped his hands in delight after receiving a free bicycle at the “Waterbury On Wheels” event on the Green in downtown Waterbury this morning. The event was a smashing success as the Green was filled with bikes, children, hula hoops, art, jugglers, hot dogs, gyros and smiles. 

Walmart, the YMCA and State Senator Joan Hartley all kicked in money to provide 160 free bicycles to the youth of Waterbury.

After getting their bikes the kids circled the Green in delight for the better part of two hours.

Republican-American editor Marty Begnal helped launch The Waterbury Observer 19 years ago, and yesterday he was zipping around the Green with his son.

Walmart’s store manager in Waterbury is Tasos Anastasopoulos, middle,  and with great help from the store’s market asset manager, Terriann Abarzua, Walmart donated 100 of the 160 bikes to “Watyerbury On Wheels”. Anastasopoulos is talking with Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary, left, and Greater Waterbury YMCA executive director Jim O’Rourke.

A group of riders from the YMCA’s Triathalon Club rode 50 miles from Torrington to Derby to help draw awareness to the proposed Naugatuck River Greenway. The riders stopped in several towns along the journey for small ceremonies to signal the revival of the Naugatuck River and the promise of a multi-use greenway.

Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary left his daughter’s 0-0 soccer game to welcome the riders into downtown Waterbury. O’Leary has repeatedly said that a greenway through Waterbury would be one of the best economic development projects in recent memory for it’s ability to increase the quality of life to city residents, and bring Waterbury citizens back to the Naugatuck River.

State Senator Joan Hartley has been a champion of the Naugatuck River Greenway for years, and she co-sponsored the “Waterbury On Wheels” event.

Utilizing “Waterbury On Wheels” to help celebrate the emerging greenway project was a perfect way to engage hundreds of Waterbury youth about bicycle safety, and the greenway they will be cruising along in the years to come.

For one day the Green in downtown Waterbury was filled with bicycles, family friendly events and laughter. One keen political pundit quipped that, “Look what we did today. The buses are off the Green, the traffic has been rerouted and we took back the Green. It should be like this every weekend.”

While some kids were enthralled with the juggler and his uni-cycle tricks, others…not so much.

Dozens of old bikes were transformed into public art projects. This butterfly bike sculpture was produced by students at the Waterbury Arts Magnet School.

Free bikes, jugglers, hula hoops, hot dogs and gyros made for a fabulous outing in downtown Waterbury.

Will Wesson of Wesson Oil was one of the tri-atheletes who rode from Torrington to Derby. Wesson’s participation was doubly significant becaiuse he is also a member of the Waterbury Greenway Committee.