August's First Friday called 'huge success'

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It was a very different tune after this month's First Friday as people like Stephen Martin flocked downtown to show their support.

"With all the controversy, I just kinda wanted to get out and support the community. The more good people we put out there, the less bad people. Water them down, ya know?" said Martin, a First Friday attendee.

It's empty now, but on Friday night, Jai West, owner of Casa Blanca, says her restaurant was filled to the brim.

"Hundreds of people, just hundreds of people in here. Every table was full every hour we were open," West said.

So full, in fact, West says she ran out of her special -- the country fried steak -- only two hours after opening.

"It was one of our top three First Friday nights we've ever had here, and if it hadn't rained, it would have probably just been our best night ever," West said.

But what made last night so different from a month ago?

"I saw a lot more policemen. Felt safer," Martin explained.

"I always thought police should be walking around on the streets, not just driving around in their cars, and I think that was really helpful last night," West said.

Cpt. Scott Gay with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office called Friday a huge success. He said there were no unruly crowds, and everyone coming together made the event really nice.

The only thing he wonders is what it would have been like if it hadn't started raining.

He's not the only one wondering.

"It definitely eliminated the after party, so-to-speak, of First Friday, so who knows what it would actually have been like if it hadn't started to rain. I'm really kind of curious," West said.

Looks like we'll have to wait for next month to find out, but West says there's only one thing she'll do differently next time.

"I'll have more country fried steak on hand," she laughed.

Gay said they definitely had more police presence this time around.

Even though the rain may have dampened the activities and heightened people's curiosity about what would have happened, some are saying it may have been a blessing in disguise.


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