Tags: Community Candids

Silly Walk Down the Ave

Posted 06.12.15 by Erika

Mill Avenue is a busy street. The hustle and bustle of the cars, cyclists, and pedestrians all navigating around each other means that there’s a lot to look at when you’re on the street. It can be easy to lose sight of the finer details of one's surroundings when there's so much going on. But there is one small detail that I don't want you to miss. 

Next time you are strolling along Mill Ave, be sure to keep an eye out for these blue signs. They may look like an average traffic sign at first glance, but take a closer look. The figure in the crosswalk is outfitted with a little more than the usual pedestrian figure - he has a bowler hat, cane, and suitcase. But more notably, the figure is in the middle of doing a super silly walk across the street. 

These blue signs are internationally known as Silly Walks signs - and they are here to encourage you to do just that. That silhouette is inspired by John Cleese's character in the classic Monty Python sketch, The Ministry of Silly Walks. Wanting a way to bring some excitement to their town, an artist group in Orje, Norway created and installed the signs at a local crosswalk. A video of the town’s residents doing their silliest walks gained popularity and pretty soon, more Silly Walk signs began popping up in cities all over the world. One of the new homes to a Silly Walk sign was in Downtown Ottawa, Canada where the Downtown Tempe Authority crew first sighted them.

Downtown Ottawa was the host for that year’s International Downtown Association conference. We were heading into the well-known Sparks Street pedestrian mall when we saw these signs posted up at the entrance. Some of us tried imitating the figure's silly stance. Some of us were a little confused as to what the signs meant. But eventually, we were all inspired to come up with our own silly walks. Our Executive Director, Kate, enjoyed the Silly Walk signs so much that she decided she wanted Downtown Tempe to have Silly Walk signs of its own.

Cut to a few weeks ago when the signs were installed at the crosswalk of 4th St and Mill Avenue. The big blue signs are hard to miss on either end of the intersection. So I recommend getting down there and doing your best silly walk ASAP! If you need some silly walk inspiration, take a look at our receptionist, Jesus, doing his signature silly walk below.