Worthington First Wednesdays, the Old Worthington Partnership's new monthly event series, appears to be a success thus far, but the organization still is looking to increase attendance, said Annina Parini, executive director of the partnership.
The events, which began Feb. 6 and are free to attend, take place from 5 to 8 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month in Old Worthington.
Parini said shops stay open late, with live entertainment on the plaza outside Dewey's Pizza, 640 High St.
Parini said April Fools is the theme for Wednesday, April 3. She said entertainment would include a magician and a DJ playing music on the Dewey's plaza.
"Kind of that fun silliness is ... what we're going for," she said.
The Family Mentor Foundation is the charity partner for the April event.
Parini said at COhatch's Worthington locations, the Hardware Store at 659 High St. and the Library and the Madery at 752 High St., community members would have an opportunity to make "buddy bags" of food for children who are in need.
The Family Mentor Foundation is a Columbus-based nonprofit that connects community resources to at-risk children. Parini said the charity was started by a Worthington mother, Kari Vernon.
COhatch, which is a startup co-working company based in Worthington, provides financial and physical support for the events, said company co-founder Matt Davis.
COhatch also facilitates charity activities that are tied to the theme of each event, Parini said.
Parini said all First Wednesdays are DORA events.
Worthington's DORA, an acronym for Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, was approved in June 2017. It established boundaries for patrons to walk around with open containers of alcoholic beverages during specified times or events.
Parini said attendance for the first two events has been dependent on the weather.
However, she said, she did not have specific figures for how many people attended each event.
The Feb. 6 event, called "Cold Hands, Warm Hearts," had a high turnout, due to unseasonably warm temperatures, she said.
"That was very successful," she said.
She said the March 6 event was not as well attended because of subzero wind chill. The theme was "Worthington Reads," which coincided with literary events and Dr. Seuss' birthday.
Parini said the partnership is looking to increase attendance through targeted marketing on social media, outreach to school buildings and a sign that has been placed on Worthington's Village Green.
She said the merchants in Worthington have been creative about coming up with ways to participate in the themes. She said for March, the Candle Lab discounted its candles with its "old books" scent.
"It was a really lovely collaboration with the merchants," Parini said.
Allison Chapman, owner of Igloo LetterPress, a letterpress and book-binding shop at 661 High St. in Worthington, said the extended hours during the events have been beneficial for her business.
"We love having the extra time for customers to be able to come in," she said.
Chapman said her shop's projects for patrons have included creating custom bookmarks.
"The last month, I think we had around 44 come in and do the project," she said.
She said the event also has brought a good number of children into the shop.
"I think a lot of the young kids are curious about the equipment," she said.
Parini said the partnership has tried to keep the community involved. She said each monthly event has been organized by a community chairperson and a team of volunteers. Parini said she gives them a budget and oversees the process, but she largely lets them organize.
She said they are still figuring out the best way to engage the community with the charity portion, and they have found patrons have been more responsive to simple projects.
"We're building this from scratch," she said.