Throughout Glendale Wednesday morning, thousands of parents and children walked to school instead of heading to the drop-off line at campus entrances as they observed the annual International Walk to School Day.
The event promotes exercise, pedestrian safety and slower driving speeds around schools that often bear the brunt of traffic congestion.
In central Glendale, dozens of parents and children met at Wilson Mini Park before walking in a large group to John Marshall Elementary, one of 30 Glendale Unified schools to rally parents and children to walk.
Students at four Glendale private schools — Incarnation School, Holy Family High School, Salem Lutheran School and Glendale Adventist Academy — also headed to their classrooms by foot.
For several years, Kara Sergile has largely spearheaded the citywide event, reinforcing the importance of walking and the caution local drivers can take around pedestrians.
Some Glendale schools organize weekly or monthly events in which parents and children meet at nearby parks or street corners and walk together.
For example, up to 200 students and parents walk to school each Friday at R.D. White Elementary.
Sergile is hoping more schools will organize similar events.
“We want to get everybody out and walking,” she said.
A couple of pedestrian safety tips for children include walking without earphones and not using the phone or texting while crossing the street, she said.
At Marshall Elementary, parent Adriene Villa said the special day mixed up her 5-year-old son’s normal routine, as well as her own.
“Normally, we don’t walk, unfortunately” she said. “I think this is so good. It is exercise. I don’t have to worry about going to the gym this afternoon.”
Yoorik Barkhordarian and his three daughters walked to Marshall Elementary like any other day, except this time they enjoyed more company.
“Every morning, we are walking to school and walking to home,” he said.
Joy Garcia walked her 9-year-old son to Marshall Elementary and was pleased to see so many parents do the same. Garcia said her son walks to school every day, but it’s rare to see such a large crowd of parents and students walking too.
“Just only a few [walk] every day,” she said, adding that the families who walk most often live nearest the campus.
“Always, there’s traffic for the cars,” she added.
Marshall students will continue to walk to school each Wednesday through October, said Principal Carla Walker, who saw on Wednesday her largest walking crowd yet since the school began participating in the annual event.
“I felt and saw a sense of community with the parents walking with their students and having a chance to talk and chat,” she said. “I think it brings the whole community together.”
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan