When Crystal River City Council made the decision to turn a former vacant lot into a beautiful public plaza, the Main Street Promotions Committee and the Town’s Events Department had only one task: to so that events happen. If you’ve been here a short time, you know that’s exactly what we did.
With the recent decision by City Council to use the Pumphouse as an event rental location and the addition of the brand new wading pool, we have even more real estate to plan fun events in our town centre.
To date, we’ve had festivals, the Taste of Crystal River, Christmas in the Square, and of course, crowd favorite First Friday events in our now beautiful Town Square. But, there’s always a but, Town Square is on Bayside Citrus Avenue and there are more than a dozen of our great downtown stores and restaurants on the Heritage Village side of Citrus Avenue. How do you plan downtown events that incorporate both? That’s the million dollar question we ask every day.
We – Main Street and the City – began First Friday events 18 months ago, and although COVID forced us to put the series on hold for several months, we hoped it would be a monthly event where residents and guests would go downtown for shopping. boutiques, galleries and gift shops, then head to Town Square to see the vendors, listen to live music and end your evening with a bite to eat or a meal at one of our local restaurants. The best plans, right?
Maybe in the middle of a pandemic when the whole world is understaffed, wasn’t it the perfect time to ask small business owners to stay open later? Maybe the Friday night crowd just isn’t the right market for shoppers? There is no magic wand we can wave to make these events happen the way we try so hard to plan.
But – this one’s a good but – this month, Heritage Village is bringing something unique to First Friday: Luminary Art Walk. This Friday, March 4, the four art galleries on the Heritage Village side will be open on the first Friday. They will have some of their local artists on hand for you to meet and see their work. Light fixtures will adorn sidewalks and walkways to guide you between Anchored Souls, Glasswerx, Coastal Art Gallery and Franklin Anderson Gallery of the Arts.
Once you’ve completed the luminary walk, join us in Town Square for live music and local vendors. We’re thrilled to have Nashville recording artist Rick Lynn performing this week.
People often ask why we work so hard to plan events, and the answer is simple: added value. Local events add value to tax-paying residents, they raise awareness for downtown shopping and dining customers, and we believe events like First Friday are good for community morale and pride.
We want these events to be good for everyone, so we’ll continue to work together to bring additional features like the Luminary Art Walk to First Fridays. Hope to see you all downtown this week, it won’t be the same without you!
Meredith Linley is Executive Director of Crystal River Main Street. Email her at [email protected]