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The Banks Cincy

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The streetcar project could force changes to Oktoberfest, Taste of Cincinnati, other events

It’s a Cincinnati question for the ages: Can the streetcar and the chicken dance co-exist?

The city of Cincinnati is quietly nudging public parades, events and festivals away from the streetcar route, which cuts a zig-zag path through downtown and Over-the-Rhine.This, after implementing a 2014 guideline that says “No special event will be permitted to …disrupt or infringe upon streetcar service.”

Slated to open in 2016, the $148 million urban circulator will cross Fifth Street at Walnut and Main. That means it would run through the middle of Oktoberfest and Taste of Cincinnati, two of the region’s biggest public festivals.

“We’re working with special events to try to get them off the streetcar route,” said John Deatrick, the city’s project executive in charge of the streetcar. “Whether that can happen or not is all up to the negotiations that will go on between the event sponsors, special events and the city manager.”

The Downtown Council, a division of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce, is not eager to change the formula for events that draw more than 500,000 people downtown every spring and fall.

“We’d like to do what’s best for the events,” said Pat Sheeran, vice president of corporate and community programming for the chamber. “We’ve had record setting Tastes for the last two years and record-setting Oktoberfests for a decade. I’m not a fan of fixing things that aren’t broken. But if there’s a better location for us, we’re open to that conversation.”

Become a WCPO Insider to read the internal city memo that could force a relocation of public festivals and learn why some view the riverfront as a logical future home for downtown’s biggest festivals.