One of the best things that happened here in 2022 was the Rock ‘n’ Roll running event. Part of a series of half marathons/5Ks around the country that feature live music along the racecourse, this is the biggest international event to come to Bellevue since we incorporated in 1953.
St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll kick-started our local economy back to pre-pandemic levels, drawing about 6,000 people from outside the region here over Labor Day weekend. Our hotel occupancy rates went up, retail and restaurant visits were up, and at the end of the weekend, the event had generated $6 million in direct sales.
The best part was seeing people from all over the world come together to support children with cancer and their families through the St. Jude Foundation. I first heard about St. Jude from my mom’s best friend Marylou. She was an ardent supporter, and my initial donation to St. Jude was in Marylou’s name. This year, I learned that St Jude not only provides free medical care to every child, but free housing during treatment for the entire family. I was incredibly proud to support this cause in our city.
I met people from near and far, including Japan. I saw residents from Bellevue neighborhoods participate, even my tennis friend Lisa with her entire family. Councilmember Janice Zahn also participated. I received a couple of complaints about loud music on an early Sunday morning, but they were far outnumbered by many rave reviews.
There is something amazing about having a different band at every mile, and then such a great cover band at Downtown Park. The runners and walkers had a wonderful time, while our city was transformed into a cosmopolitan gathering spot. So many participants spoke of wanting to come back to spend more time in Bellevue. They loved our restaurants, parks, beautiful views and, of course, the shopping.
Now I am looking forward to 2023, when our city celebrates its 70th birthday, and I hope the Rock ‘n’ Roll running event be back, maybe as a full marathon! We showed what makes Bellevue such a wonderful place to live, work and play. I can’t believe I get to experience it every day.