PITTSFIELD — A whole lotta shakin', runnin' and dancin' will be happening tonight.
Third Thursday, the city's monthly downtown block party, will feature a mile-long road race, belly dancing, yoga and a massive dance party to get people of all ages moving and staying fit.
The June theme of health is designed to help children and adults to physically better themselves and have fun doing it, according to Jen Glockner, director for Pittsfield's Office of Cultural Development.
"For staying healthy, what better way than dance," Glockner said. "From Maplewood to Park Square, we have a lot of healthy things to do."
The pedestrian-only Third Thursday route of North Street from Maplewood Avenue to Park Square — now entirely tobacco-free as of this year — is also the course for Berkshire Running Center's 7th Annual Green Mile Road Race starting at 5;30 p.m.
The race attracts some of the county's top current and former milers and dozens of other runners racing for the first time or trying to better their times from the previous Green Mile. The field is set as race registration closed at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
For Third Thursday attendees who prefer exercise that doesn't involve pounding the pavement, Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness instructors will be teaching free classes for kids and adults throughout the festival, which runs from 5 to 8 p.m., at either Palace Park or Park Square.
Berkshire Yoga also will have salsa and belly dancing at Palace Park, all to show the variety of activities available to get and stay in shape, according to owner Rachael Plaine.
"We try to get people interested in what we do that might be intimidated by going to a gym," Plaine said. "This is a real accessible way to get fit and have fun."
The more entertaining portion of the program includes a big dance party led by DJ BFG at Persip Park, Third Thursday's main stage at the corner of Columbus Avenue and North Street, African and Caribbean drum classes concert and Midnight Revival performing on the South Street sidewalk outside the Crowne Plaza.
The theatrical highlights include a sneak preview of Berkshire Theatre Group's staging of "Beauty and the Beast" in August and a unique combination of the silver scene and modern dance courtesy of Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Becket.
Jacob's Pillow is sponsoring "Truck," a work performed inside a 17-foot box truck, with live dancing in sync with a movie, according to Jacob's Pillow Managing Director Andrea Sholler.
"It's an intersection of film and movement and it's portable," she said.
Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer, Guggenheim fellows in choreography, are acclaimed for their innovative integration of choreography and video technology according to their website.
As the 10th season of Third Thursday unfolds, Glockner said it continues to grow as the demand for participation increases. She says the 100 vendors lined up for June tops the number who lined North Street this time last year.
"Even on the morning of Third Thursday, someone will come in," she said, "and if food and a permit aren't involved, we'll find space for them."
IF YOU GO ...
What: Third Thursday, health theme for June
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Downtown Pittsfield
Highlights: Green Mile Road Race, dance party with DJ BFG, Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness at Palace Park and Park Square, sneak preview of Berkshire Theatre Group's "Beauty and the Beast," Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival sponsoring Bridgman/Packer's "Truck," musical performance by Midnight Revival at Crowne Plaza, South Street sidewalk.
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.