Kids get in act on Tour of Walla Walla

Brayden Seeliger, 4, climbs the step ladder podium to receive a hamburger bell prize for his finish in the children’s training wheel race Saturday morning.

Brayden Seeliger, 4, climbs the step ladder podium to receive a hamburger bell prize for his finish in the children’s training wheel race Saturday morning. Photo by Matthew Zimmerman Banderas.

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WALLA WALLA — Pro and cat racers one through five had some new competition this year from kid cat racers two through nine, at least when it came to winning the hearts of the adults who sponsored children in four Tour of Walla Walla children’s races on Saturday monring.

As Brayden Seelinger donned his Hot Wheels helmet and rode his Lightning McQueen bike, it didn’t matter what place he would take in his cat; the 4-year-old was destined to end up the winner in his grandmother’s eye.

“I had the day off and I though it would be fun to bring him out,” said Dorothy Lutz, who also happened to be Seelinger’s main sponsor, having bought him his bike and helmet and entered him in Saturday’s race for ages 4-6.

The other three kids races were for tricycle riders, training wheel cyclists and a kid cat ages 7-9.

“I think it is important that the kids exercise early and what better way than riding a bike,” event coordinator Kay Barga said.

In previous years, only one kids bike race was held. But this year, Tour of Walla Walla coordinators took advantage of having Main Street all to themselves all day.

“It is kind of a unique experience to walk on Main Street without any cars,” Downtown Walla Walla Foundation Events and Public Relations Manager Jennifer Northam said.

Northam went on to explain that city officials made it clear it would no longer be acceptable to close Main Street at midmorning, which required merchants and their customers to move their cars. Instead, the streets were closed around 5 a.m. before the businesses opened.

Main Street Furniture Store owner Kelly Belcher said she didn’t mind having the street closed earlier this year, adding that she was still seeing plenty of foot traffic in her store on Saturday around 11 a.m.

“This type of event brings people to town. Whether they can park here or not, and there is still tons of parking in the church parking lots,” Belcher said.

To help drive more people into the stores and give parents and children something to do, the foundation created its own version of Where’s Waldo.

Bike Guy Hide & Seek required participants to enter some 21 downtown stores to look for the Allegro Cyclery logo featuring a man on a bike wearing a cap.

Once spotted, contestants were given cards. And once 15 cards were turned in, contestants were entered in a drawing for prizes.

Not all the businesses saw a climb in foot traffic. Debi Flint, a sales clerk with Pontarolo’s, said it was no busier than usual and that customers were still willing to park and walk the extra couple blocks to pick up supplies.

“I am enjoying it because I only work on Saturday and I get to see it (the bike races),” Flint added.

Today, downtown Main Street will be open as the last leg of the Tour of Walla Walla takes over the county roads northwest of Dayton.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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