Glen-a-palooza brings an added shot of vitality to downtown | PostIndependent.com

Glen-a-palooza brings an added shot of vitality to downtown

Chrissy-Lee Manes
For the Post Independent

More than a year before the scheduled Grand Avenue Bridge closure, its effects were being felt by downtown businesses. Traffic congestion increased due to the preliminary construction efforts. Aesthetics were harmed by demolition and equipment storage. Noise complaints were common.

Most significantly, apprehension about the upcoming construction was already keeping locals away from the downtown core. Tourists often seemed unperturbed and even interested in the construction. Locals were less enthusiastic, and their absence was being felt. In an effort to combat the negative aspects of the construction process, a few downtown businesses experimented with a new downtown event to help show the locals that downtown was still open for business.

Today’s Glen-a-palooza will involve a street closure on Cooper Avenue between Seventh and Eighth from 5-9 p.m. There will be some fun family activities, and the Painters Stage will be playing starting at 6 p.m. There will be a sidewalk chalk art competition with a $100 cash prize for the first place, and gift certificates from Juicy Lucy’s and Grand Hair designs for second and third place.

If you would like to participate please stop by Providence before 4:30 p.m. If you would like to volunteer, please email chrissy@providenceap.com for more info.

We wanted to increase visibility and give the locals a good reason to come and enjoy their downtown area.

The owners at Providence, along with the help of Laura Speack of the Silver Bead, pioneered the event in an effort to spread awareness to locals that downtown is still open for business. In March 2016, it started as a grassroots effort amongst business owners with several businesses offering sales, snacks and activities. Music was often provided.

The feedback was absolutely incredible. Many people made a concerted effort to stop by the store and communicate their enthusiasm for the event.

The scale of the event continued to grow. So many people attended the July event that pedestrian traffic was impacting vehicle traffic. As a result, the following Glen-a-palooza included a street closure on Cooper Avenue, the first such closure on that block in many years.

Community involvement is paramount. Getting families involved was always a priority, and our favorite way to do that has been through community art projects. The art projects were often hung around the downtown area in areas that were suffering from the negative aesthetic impacts of the construction.

Last year, a sidewalk chalk-art completion involved about a dozen artists. Art panels were painted by artists of all ages and hung on the temporary pedestrian bridge. This year’s Glen-a-palooza event encouraged the participation of kids to paint giant wings on a series of canvases.

The event has not come without its difficulties. Getting volunteer help is the most challenging aspect of the event. Although the city has paid for the material and permitting costs this year, all of the effort is volunteer.

That is what makes this event so special, I guess; it is homegrown. Although Glen-a-palooza was started in reaction to the negative effects of the construction process, we hope to keep it going even after the construction is finished.

Manes is owner of Providence Apothecary.


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