Updated: Wednesday, 17 Mar 2010, 11:59 PM CDT
Published : Wednesday, 17 Mar 2010, 9:46 PM CDT
AUSTIN (KXAN) - With two reasons to celebrate Wednesday night - opening day of the South by Southwest music festival and St. Patrick's Day - fans of both have flocked to Sixth Street.
But it's not an easy route to local venues for either locals or out-of-town visitors. So KXAN News suggests you take actor Erik Estrada's advice before heading downtown during one of the busiest weeks of the year in Austin.
Estrada, for the younger set, was Ponch Poncherello in the '70s television series CHiPs . Estrada was in Austin during SWSX for a rather non-sex symbol promotion on Wednesday -- hearing aids -- but he still was pretty good at dispensing rather authoritative traffic advice for SXSW attendees in downtown Austin.
"If you can consolidate by taking three or four people instead of taking three or four cars to get around, that's a good thing," said Estrada while walking back to his hotel at Fifth Street and Neches.
Getting a word in among the crowd of fans snapping pictures with the CHiPs co-star was not easy. The one-time television sex symbol is in town handing out guitar picks and promoting a hearing aid foundation he is now the face of along with actor Verne Troyer.
"Don't forget to pull to the right when you hear a siren and keep it under 55 baby," Estrada quipped to KXAN News with a smile and a laugh.
Estrada has has television gigs in his years since CHiPs -- most recently as father of the groom in a television movie -- but he has no problem making fun of himself in videos such as this one:
With two reasons to celebrate Wednesday night - opening day of the South by Southwest music festival and St. Patrick - fans of both flocked to 6th Street.
"We took a taxi and we're gonna go either hitchhike home or get a cab down by the freeway," said Tiberis Dawn sporting a tall green foam hat.
Sitting bumper to bumper on Fifth Street did not look fun. Barricades blocked 6th Street and city crews shut down one lane on 5th and 7th Streets to allow easier loading and unloading.
Taking two wheels appeared to be the smarter transportation choice.
"Riding a bike is just a lot, lot faster," said Anna Weinstein-Perez who stopped her bike for a second on her afternoon ride.
Austin police called in extra officers to keep an eye on the crowd. During SXSW, 6th Street will only be open to cars from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Commercial vehicles are allowed in from 10:00 to 4:00pm for loading and unloading. The path turns pedestrian-only from 4:00 p.m to 6:00 a.m.