Volkssport. It sounds vaguely communist, somehow, but it's just the opposite. Rather anarchistic, actually, with just enough organization to encourage the volks to get out and do it.
Pasadena Heritage embraces the activity next Saturday with its first "Volksmarch," this one with a head on it: At the end of the march--more a pleasant, noncompetitive 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) stroll--participants are invited to a beer-tasting festival.
The Volkssport phenomenon, says Pasadena Heritage's Sue Mossman, is sweeping America, with some 400 Volkssports clubs sponsoring walks, swims, bicycle tours. (With the inaugural walk-cum-beer bust, Pasadena Heritage becomes the official Volkssport Club of the area, joining Hollywood, Long Beach and other Southland communities.)
"We've been amazed at the response," says Mossman. "We have people coming in from Redlands, Victorville. . . . Not hordes, you understand, but we've also had inquiries from as far away as Texas and Minnesota. It's become a real network.")
Along the Way
Volksmarches generally lead through an area of historical interest or rare beauty (Pasadena, of course, claims both), with a brochure provided for a self-guided tour and with checkpoints set up to record a walker's progress, much as passports used to be stamped. When a book is full, with a number of varying hikes recorded, it may be sent off to the American Volkssport Assn., which provides appropriate patches and pins.
The walk begins and ends at Memorial Park, where, through no coincidence, the beer-tasting also will be held. With health and intellect stimulated by the walk, doesn't a subsequent beer bust seem a little inappropriate?
"It's slightly more elevated that that ," says Mossman with simulated indignation. "We'll have about 30 brands of beer from all over the world, but we only pour tastes; say two fingers in a Pilsener glass. OK, make it three fingers."
"In any case, participants will get a nice taste of the best of Pasadena." Heady stuff.
Volksmarch, starting and finishing at Memorial Park (just south of Walnut Street, west of Marengo Avenue), begins 8 a.m. to last starting time at 1 p.m., and must be completed by 4 to gain credit; $5 for those wanting progress recorded and an embroidered patch; free for everyone else. Beer-tasting, also at park, is $12 for members, $15 for non-members. Information: (818) 793-0617.