Sunday, August 31, 2014

Get! Downtown revives business

Lynchburg celebrates business by inviting people to stroll up and down Main Street at the fifth-annual event

Even though superstitions surround Friday the 13th, people ventured out onto Main Street to enjoy loud music and fair food at Lynchburg’s fifth-annual Get!Downtown event.

community — People take the streets at this annual event. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

Community — People take the streets at this annual event. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

Street vendors lined Main Street between 8th and 13th St. to promote their establishments and rejuvenate the streets of downtown.

Lynch’s Landing Event and Communication Coordinator Stephanie Keener helped organize Get!Downtown with the National Main Street Program to introduce students to activities in Lynchburg.

“One of our missions is to create events that attract people to downtown Lynchburg,” Keener said.

According to Gladiola Girls owner Renee Wood, events like Get!Downtown show Liberty University students the world that lies beyond Wards Road.

“They say that 8,000-10,000 people come out for the event,” Wood said. “It is fun to help them kind of discover Lynchburg, restaurants and activities.”

Attendance increases every year, making it a “back to school tradition,” Keener said.

“The main purpose is to celebrate downtown and back to school,” Keener said. “Education is a big part of Lynchburg, six colleges and all the wonderful secondary and primary schools too. It’s a special part of our community, and downtown is a nice place for everyone to come together and celebrate that.”

Lynchburg Salsa supervisor Elizabeth Pfister said she is proud of Lynchburg, the chance she has to support the city and for Salsa to be known as one of its hidden treasures.

“Get!Downtown is one of my favorite events of the year,” Pfister said. “I love my little town, and there is stuff to do if you look for it, and (salsa) is one of the great things.”

According to Pfister, she has helped run Salsa for nearly five years and has seen a large increase in attendance, partly due to annually participating in Get!Downtown.

“Last year, I think we handed out over a thousand flyers,” Pfister said. “It has grown a ton. Some nights, it is so big that we even have to cap it.”

Pfister said they have tried to work with Liberty to make it safe for their students by setting a dress code and making it an alcohol and smoke-free environment.

“Myself and other directors that are there are constantly monitoring so that nobody can possibly get in trouble for anything,” Pfister said.

Get!Downtown sent buses to all of the Lynchburg colleges to pick up students and bring them to the event. According to Keener, this gives students the chance to meet people from other colleges and see what downtown has to offer.

“Almost everyone that I have rung up tonight has been a new customer, so that’s great to do,” Wood said. “And that is what we want. We want people to know that we are here, that we are open seven days a week.”

Gladiola Girls is a ministry, according to Wood. She believes that style is a choice and women do not need be indecent to be beautiful.

“I think that looking feminine isn’t about how much skin you are showing,” Wood said. “Everybody has a style, and I try to create something that I hope everyone can find.”

Other businesses chose to schedule their grand openings for the same night as Get!Downtown, such as the White Hart re-opening.

According to the new owner, Abe Loper, the White Hart plans to have the same vibe as it had before. He also said many college students frequent this Lynchburg coffee shop and are happy it has re-opened.

To find out more about businesses and activities in Lynchburg, visit lynchslanding.com or downtownlynchburg.com.

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