Westerville News & Public Opinion

4th Fridays event to bring 'Uptown Alive' April 26

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The Westerville Visitors and Convention Bureau will launch its 2013 OhioHealth 4th Friday celebration series from 6 to 9 p.m. April 26.

This year's 4th Friday celebrations -- free block parties that fill Uptown Westerville on the fourth Friday of every month from April through September with vendors and entertainment -- will feature some changes. They all will be "tweaks" aimed at making the events better than ever, said Jeff Hartnell, Westerville Visitors and Convention Bureau executive director.

The Westerville Bike Club will organize a "bike corral" in Emerald Square -- the parking lot behind Emerald Bank near the corner of West Main and North State streets.

There, cyclists will be able to park their bikes in a secured area, have their bikes serviced and enter to win cycling-related drawings.

"We're pretty excited about having the Westerville Bike Club," Hartnell said.

"We've been trying to get a bike corral up here for several years," he said. "We're a bike-and-leisure-trail kind of town, and we never have a place for people to put their bikes."

As a nod to Westerville declaring 2013 as the "Year of the Arts," 4th Friday organizers have created an Arts Alley near Hanby Magnet School, 56 S. State St. The area will feature Westerville artists demonstrating and displaying their work.

"It will be photography, sometimes it will be sculpture work, pottery painting -- you know, really good local artists to give them an area to showcase," Hartnell said.

Food trucks will be added to the end of each roadway, both as a way to offer more food choices to 4th Friday patrons and to better define the boundaries of the event.

Food trucks will include Dan's Deli, Mojo Taco and Westerville's own "Pizza" Mike Evans, who was featured on Food Network's "Great Food Truck Race."

As has been the case in past years, music stages will be set up at different points along State Street, about 125 vendors selling a variety of wares, food and services will be set up, and Uptown businesses will stay open late.

During April's event, which carries the "Uptown Alive" theme, there will be demonstration by Generations Performing Arts Center Dancers from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and by Xcel Martial Arts students from 7:45 to 9 p.m. on West College Avenue.

Performances by the Ohio RockStars from 6:30 to 7 p.m. and the Hanby Singers from 7 to 7:30 p.m. are planned for East College Avenue.

The Westerville Public Library will have story times for children from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Amish Originals, 38 N. State St.

The Westerville Puppet Posse will perform in front of the Westerville Municipal Building, 21 S. State St., and the Westerville Division of Fire will have equipment on display in the parking lot of Union Savings Bank, 44 S. State St.

Hartnell said the Visitors and Convention Bureau continues to take feedback to make positive changes to 4th Friday celebrations, which he said attract about 50,000 people over the six-event series, making it one of the largest regular events in Ohio.

"It's growing in the right way, I think, and we're trying to be very careful that we don't do something that's going to overstep our bounds a little bit," Hartnell said.

Other 4th Friday celebrations scheduled for 2013 include "Back to Nature" May 24, "Safety Fest" June 28, "World Bazaar" July 26, "Dog Days of Summer" Aug. 23 and "School Daze Fall Fest" Sept. 27.

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