Alex Amra, owner of Tobacco Road Sports Cafe, has worked on Glenwood Avenue for 15 years and has been waiting for something like “Slide the City” to show up.
But Seth Hoffman, owner of The Raleigh Wine Shop on Glenwood Avenue, worries that Saturday’s giant water slide could stop traffic to his store, at 126 Glenwood and right next to the slide.
The sold-out event promises a 1,000-foot-long water slide stretching between Tucker and Jones streets, meaning road closures for three blocks of Glenwood Avenue, along with adjoining side streets. Five thousand tickets were sold, but about 7,000 people are expected to attend, including spectators, organizers said.
Based in Utah, Slide the City is scheduled to visit dozens of U.S. cities this summer. This will be the group’s first visit to Raleigh.
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Hoffman said he is fascinated to see the slide, but noted that closed streets are a mixed bag for businesses. The Slide the City crowd probably won’t be interested in buying a bottle of wine, and the event will likely cut off regular customers, he said. Still, he said, getting more people down to Glenwood Avenue is always positive.
“Anything we can do to increase our exposure is fantastic,” Hoffman said.
A business group in the Glenwood South neighborhood had been hoping to find an event to bring new people to the area, Amra said. Slide the City seemed a perfect fit.
Amra said he expects Saturday to be one of his restaurant’s busiest days.
“We’re going to treat it like a really busy ACC Saturday,” he said.
Other businesses are doing special promotions for the event, including an all-day party complete with live music at Dos Taquitos Xoco and a rooftop viewing party at the Hibernian Irish Pub.
Ticket-holders will slip down the padded vinyl water slide from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, but roads will be closed from 5 a.m. to midnight. Passes sold for as little as $15 for a single slide and as much as $60 for unlimited slides.
After obtaining a permit, Slide the City ran into some trouble, when state rules prohibited the company from recirculating the water used for the slide. Instead, they will have to let the water flow into city drainage.
According to the city permit, Slide the City will pay to dechlorinate the water before returning it to the city system.
Jennifer Martin, executive director of Shop Local Raleigh and coordinator of the event, said this means the attraction will be using as much as 81,000 gallons of water.
Slide the City typically circulates 12,000 to 20,000 gallons of water per day, according to its website.
Off-duty police officers and other crowd-control staff will address safety concerns. Riders can choose to wear helmets when careening down the slide.
Shop Local Raleigh has been working to bring more people to Glenwood Avenue, Martin said. Slide the City is part of an attempt to make the area, with its reputation for night life, more family-friendly.
“We’re hoping that people will find that Glenwood South is not just a party district,” Martin said.
Ironman race Sunday
Some downtown Raleigh streets will be closed Sunday, also, for the Ironman Triathlon. The event starts at 7 a.m. with swimming in Jordan Lake, then competitors will bike from Chatham County to Raleigh. The 13.1-mile running portion later in the day will wind through Hillsborough Street, N.C. State University and downtown before finishing at City Plaza.