For the first time in memory, Westerville will shut down State Street in Uptown for an event other than a parade.

As part of Mount Carmel St. Ann's 4th Friday celebration Friday, Aug. 25, the city will close State Street between the north side of Park Street to the intersection of Main and State streets, allowing pedestrians and performers access to the road.

Jeff Hartnell, executive director of the Westerville Visitors and Convention Bureau, said the process of attempting to close the road was "complicated in and of itself," and he's thinking of the exercise as a trial run.

"Everybody's got an opinion, we know that," he said. "So the decision was made to run this as a pilot, get the facts down and then sit down after with the facts and know what exactly transpired."

Debbie Bennati, president of Westerville Uptown Merchants, said merchants are mostly intrigued about the way the street closure will work, but it "really doesn't affect us negatively" on paper.

"I think most people are curious about it and how it will work out," Bennati said. "Most people haven't decided one way or another because it's never been done."

Kimberly Sharp, deputy director of planning and development for the city, said the city staff is similarly interested in the trial run of the concept. But the city also has to worry about logistics, such as what would happen if an accident blocks part of Interstate 270.

Because State Street is the main route north, the city would be required to open the street back up if I-270 were closed, she said.

Hartnell is aware of such concerns but said he hopes people could "take a deep breath and let us give this thing a try."

"If we decide, 'Wow, this was a problem,' then we'll know not to do it again," he said. "The whole purpose is to give this as good a chance as possible to see what it adds."

The main addition from the closure will be precious space.

With small Uptown sidewalks, space can be cramped, and Hartnell said the extra room should benefit all parties involved.

"We're always struggling for performance areas for dancers or musicians or whatever," Hartnell said. "But now, we'll be able to use the intersection of State and College ... for performances.

"It gives this wide-open area where people can wander into the street and enjoy the performances without cluttering everything up," he said.

The theme for this 4th Friday is Dog Days of Summer, where visitors are encouraged to bring their dogs and vendors will offer treats, toys and other dog-related activities.

For more information, go to VisitWesterville.org.

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