SAN ANTONIO - Politicians run for office, but there are some city council leaders who've been on a campaign trail of a different sort.
"Walk with the Mayor" is a fitness initiative that was launched by Mayor Ivy Taylor in 2015. Her council colleagues have often joined her on these walks, as they have worked their way around the city on a journey to a healthier life.
On Saturday, a large and enthusiastic group gathered in Southside Lions Park to enjoy a new trail system that was recently completed.
Walk leader Bert Pickell gave the crowd a preview and a bit of a pep talk.
"It will be a little more than two miles though, so some of you might be a little bit challenged," Pickell said.
Pickell said the trail amenities and beautiful setting make for a perfect place to walk towards fitness.
“This park is actually one of those hidden secrets in San Antonio,” Pickell said.
District 3 Representative Rebecca Viagran agreed.
"It's a community gathering event," Viagran said. "That's what San Antonio does. We gather together as a community and this is our healthy way of doing it."
In addition to the health benefits, Viagran said communication is an important value as well.
“The great thing about this is we're walking. We're talking. You're walking with your local elected official, so that's where the accessibility and the one on one contact comes on," Viagran said. "We can be together in the community walking around and really pointing out different things or issues and have that one-on-one time.”
“I live in the area and it's always been a good place to walk but now it's even better with the new trail down to the lake,” Neighborhood resident Minerva Ybarra said.
Ybarra said walking with friends makes her more likely to stick with her fitness regime.
“It's the motivation that we have for each other. And as a group you can do so much more because you're excited to be with everybody and just go out and get the exercise we need,” Ybarra said.
Ybarra’s friend Sheryl Hopkins agreed.
“The brand new trails are really awesome to walk on. We call it the snake trail, because it's winding," Hopkins said. "It's going downhill and uphill so you get a good workout and it's a nice environment.”
Hopkins said the park improvements are a source of great comfort.
“There are lots of people and lots of lighting, so you feel safe because you're walking with other people,” Hopkins said.
Pickell said no matter how many people show up, the events are always a success.
“Some have been only 30 or 40 folks show up but we've had one that had over 600 folks, and of course along the way, we're visiting all these great locations in San Antonio that some people don't even know exist,” Pickell said.
“It's pretty fun and I think a lot of folks don't realize how wonderful the parks are that we have here in San Antonio. This is an amazing trail here," Mayor Taylor said.
She said she does plans to keep sponsoring these walks in each council district.
For more information and where you can find conveniently located parks and trails, you can visit the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department website at https://www.sanantonio.gov/ParksAndRec/Home.