On June 2, 1978, Cuyahoga Falls celebrated a portion of Front Street becoming pedestrian only.

Forty years later to the day — on Saturday — the city will celebrate the reopening of the street to drivers and the hoped-for rebirth of its downtown.

Saturday’s festivities will begin with a community parade at 10 a.m., followed by the River City Pop Culture Fest that will run until 10 p.m.

The day will feature local food, craft beer, retail vendors, entertainment and activities for the kids.

And, yes, the city is closing part of Front Street to celebrate its reopening.

Local businesses will remain open, with many of them offering activities.

Saturday’s festival is a collaboration of the city; Oddmall, a local group that organizes events that are part art show, part craft fair and cosplay; and Altered Realm Radio, a show on the locally produced KRMA internet radio (https://krmaradio.com).

Festival organizers sought vendors “peddling any sort of geeky, odd, pop-cultural, or handmade awesomenesses.”

Performers will include Roxxymoron (at 8 p.m.). A Cosplay Contest, in which people dress up as characters, will be at 6:30 p.m.

Barbecue, pizza and hot dogs, among other eats, will be available for purchase.

Local craft beer vendors will include HiHO of Cuyahoga Falls, Thirsty Dog, Royal Docks, Missing Mountain and McArthur’s Brew House.

For a schedule, go to https://www.oddmall.info and click on River City Pop Culture Fest.

Pedestrian mall failed

Mayor Don Walters said the city is “thrilled to reactivate the north and south end of Front Street and to welcome everyone back to downtown Cuyahoga Falls” in a city news release.

Cuyahoga Falls, hoping to find new ways to compete against area malls, closed a portion of Front Street to vehicles in 1978, creating a pedestrian mall that city officials hoped would be lined with thriving businesses.

But the shopping area never lived up to the city’s hopes.

The mall hosted weekend festivals and carnivals, but for the most part, there wasn’t much pedestrian traffic.

Saturday’s parade will begin at Oakwood Drive and Front and will continue south on Front and end at Chestnut Boulevard. The parade route is about 1 mile.

Free parking will be available in city-owned decks and lots along Second Street, north of Broad Boulevard.

Several streets will be closed — some beginning at 9 a.m. and others beginning at 9:30 a.m. — for the parade. Sections of Portage Trail and Broad Boulevard will close at 9:30 a.m. and reopen after the last parade unit passes.

Saturday’s events are being sponsored by the city, Western Reserve Hospital, Cascade Auto Group and SearchActions, an internet marketing company.

The city and the organizations also are sponsors of the Falls Downtown Fridays event series.

The series kicks off June 15 with Bebop on the Block, running from 5 to 10 p.m. It will feature local jazz music entertainers, kids’ activities, local food and retail vendors.

More information is at www.cityofcf.com/activity/falls-downtown-fridays.

Saturday is one of the few days the street will be closed to accommodate crowds, said city spokeswoman Kelly Crawford-Smith. Front Street also will be closed for three major festivals, the Irish Festival (June 8-10), Festa Italiana (July 20-22), and Oktoberfest (Sept. 21-23).

Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com. You can follow her @KatieByardABJ on Twitter or on Facebook at www.facebook.com.