By design, a lot of nothing was going on Sunday afternoon during Lexington's Sedentary Parade, which poked fun at the city being named America's least active by Men's Health magazine.
Mayor Jim Gray led the "parade" sitting on a couch atop an electric cart, complete with a table for putting your feet up. Members of the March Madness Marching Band, some wearing pajama pants, pretended to fall asleep in the streets. And people who lined the sidewalks just did a lot of sitting around.
"I thought it would be exciting to make fun of the article that said we were the most sedentary city because I don't think it's true at all," said Alicia Helm McCorvey, who sat during the parade with her daughter Julia McCorvey.
But within a few minutes of the parade's end, in the area around the Robert F. Stephens Courthouse Plaza and the CentrePointe lot on Main Street, people jumped into action.
As part of Kentucky's 2nd Sunday program to promote healthy living, there were activities sponsored by more than 70 organizations, including demonstrations of soccer, yoga and dance.
Gray said he didn't think Lexington was the most sedentary city, "but it's not the healthiest either."
"We've got things to work on," he said. "Sometimes we have to poke fun at ourselves to improve ourselves."
Kathleen Martin, vice president of development at Get Healthy Kentucky, the organization that oversaw the Sedentary Parade, estimated that at least 7,000 people participated in Sunday's activities.
"I think the community came to understand that sitting still is something Lexington does not do well," she said.
At the event, Trish McCracken wore a Key West, Fla., T-shirt and said she was portraying someone who was relaxing in the sun — until , that is, she joined in a demonstration of Zumba fitness dancing.
Lanita Clarke said she and her husband, Don, who sat in lawn chairs during the parade, "thought it would be fun to be part of it, ... just to join in the fun and get rid of this bad stereotype that Lexington has now been given."
"We are in our late 60s. ... We are not all sitting around in our rocking chairs," she said.
Said her husband: "We go to the exercise facility three to five to six days a week, so we are not exactly part of the sedentary thing."
Diana Doggett, a Fayette County extension agent for family and consumer sciences, said that under the leadership of the University of Kentucky Family and Consumer Sciences Extension, as many as 100 of Kentucky's 120 counties were participating in 2nd Sunday. It is an effort that is trying to encourage more physical activity statewide.
Two hundred UK students volunteered for Sunday's event in Lexington, Doggett said. Earlier in the day, more than 600 families had signed up for Fayette County Public Schools' PTA 5K Run/Walk at Coldstream Park, off Newtown Pike, Doggett said.
"We are not in denial that ... we have a lot of improving to do," she said. "We have invited Men's Health to follow our efforts and the synergy that their rating has created."
Tim Francis said he built the "driveable couch" that Gray rode on in the Sedentary Parade several months ago for another event. But Francis said that he thought it was perfect for the Sedentary Parade and that he was a big fan of what the 2nd Sunday effort had done for Kentucky.
"We brought it down in honor of Stephen Colbert" said Francis, referring to the Comedy Central TV host who poked fun at Lexington for its dubious designation.
Urban County Council member Jay McChord was one of 2nd Sunday's founders. He said that from now on, on the second Sunday of every month, many Lexington businesses will offer free physical activities.
"Maybe Lexington can be the inspiration for the nation," he said. "We know we have to make a change."
Reach Valarie Honeycutt Spears at (859) 231-3409 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3409.