Biking fundraiser draws crowd

At 10 a.m. Saturday, East Rock Park buzzed with activity. An automated bubble-blower engrossed a dozen rambunctious children while a local band of middle-aged musicians — known as Parker’s Tangent — played song after song of 12-bar classic rock. By 11:45 a.m., a group of bicyclists had pedaled its way over to the intersection of Cold Spring Avenue and Orange Street, where the first “Rock to Rock” charity event began on its route to West Rock.

For Rock to Rock, a traveling environmental fundraiser, over 200 participants gathered to bike along the Elm City’s paths from East Rock Park to Common Ground High School in West Rock. The proceeds from registration fees — $25 for adults and $10 for children — as well as pledges and raffle ticket sales will be split equally among six local environmental organizations.

“Rock to Rock has a couple of purposes,” said Joel Tolman, the event’s director. “We wanted to bring people together, get them to explore different parts of the city, and also raise money for local environmental organizations.”

The event featured stops in Beaver Pond and Edgewood parks prior to the final destination of West Rock. Tolman noted that he himself had never been to Beaver Pond Park prior to planning the event.

“We’ve been living in New Haven for over 50 years, and I saw parts of the city I hadn’t seen before,” said Dan Delvecchio, a plastic surgeon, as he held his toddler-aged son in his arms.

At each of the four stops, an information table promoted Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s environmental efforts. Mark Bouchard, a Quinnipiac University junior working on the mayor’s re-election campaign, made note of the personal significance of local environmental efforts to DeStefano. Though environmental sustainability has been on his agenda for three years, Bouchard said, DeStefano has only recently gotten the funding to forward his plans.

While New Haven does not suffer from any specific environmental issues, its residents do show some pollution-related symptoms, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. A 2006 survey by the department found that 18 percent of school-aged children have asthma.

At 11 a.m., the mayor joined a troupe of cyclists in the event’s morning ride to the summit of East Rock.

“I did very well,” he said of the ride, adding: “Some of my junior staff, though ….”

Arriving at the final stop, the bicyclists headed to Common Ground’s chicken coop, where children chased after roosters and adults mingled in the shade.

“I had a lot of fun,” Brian Tang ’12 said at Common Ground High School. Tang noted that he had recognized a few other Yale students and professors, although the majority of participants were city residents and bike enthusiasts.

“I really think more Yale students should bike and learn about the city,” he said.

As the event wound down, final estimates of funds raised suggested the first Rock to Rock had been a success, Tolman said.

“Our goal had been to raise $15,000,” he said. “It looks like we got close to it.”

The six local organizations benefited by the event are Common Ground High School, Friends of East Rock Park, Friends of Beaver Pond Park, Trowbridge Environment Center, West Rock Nature Center and Solar Youth, Inc.

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