Downtown business owners organize to save First Friday

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October 5, 2006

Four years ago today, there was a huge riot after First Friday, with fights breaking out everywhere. One man threw a bottle into a crowd.

The out of control crowds have ruined the image of First Friday, but downtown business owners say they can bring the event back to the traditional family fun event, with nice strolls and outside eating in a pleasant environment.

They say despite First Friday losing funding, it's not dead, and the event will go on.

Dozens of downtown business owners like Jai West are standing up for First Friday.

"I think it will be more structured and take it into our own hands," West said.

Downtown business owner Lara Plocha arranged a meeting with more than 30 downtown business owners. They are forming the Downtown Business Association to rescue First Friday.

This time business owners will be in control.

"They should be in control of vendors, entertainment, and things like that," Lara Plocha told News 12.

"What we don't want is First Friday to get out of hand again, and that is with musicians coming and setting up wherever they want to making all the noise they want to, vendors coming down, setting up wherever with no control," said Carless Gay owner of Cloud Nine.

That's exactly what happened four years ago. There was no control when crowds came after First Friday was over and began fighting and creating chaos, giving the event a black eye.

"Like a 5 to 10 cut off time, which will be great," said West. "It will end a lot of the problems that happen after the 10 o'clock hour."

Matt: "If you are down here for no purpose other than walking around and loitering, we really discourage that," said Matt Plocha, who owns the Blue Magnolia along with Lara Plocha.

They're not giving up on First Friday...and they don't want you too either.

Last week the Downtown Development Authority cut off funding for First Friday in order to put on a variety of other events.

Downtown business owners hope to take over for the First Friday in November.