Despite the cooler weather of the evening, a large crowd showed up for the first Mount Carmel St. Ann's 4th Friday event of the season April 26 in Uptown Westerville.

The theme, Spring into Arts, connects to Westerville's celebration of April as Arts Month.

"Both in the shops and among the vendors, visual arts using all media can be found and appreciated," said Glenda Mihaly, marketing coordinator with the Westerville Visitors & Convention Bureau.

Mihaly said the event has been going on since July or August of 1999 and started as an event with the Uptown Merchants Association.

"It grew from an event highlighting the merchants into what it is now," she said.

Linda Wilkins, president of the Arts Council of Westerville, said the organization wanted to provide an opportunity for children to be hands-on with art with its station. Children came to the front of the Union Savings Bank parking lot, 44. S. State St., and the lawn of Hanby Elementary School, 56 S. State St., and received a "passport" to keep track of the different stations they visited.

"We thought it would be an excellent opportunity for a passport experience for kids," she said.

Children could create pictures with chalk on the parking lot. Volunteers at a different station helped young children interact and learn about musical instruments and dance.

"It's a great hands-on art opportunity," Wilkins said.

There were also a variety of vendors and food trucks for attendees to check out while there. All shops in the Uptown Westerville district also had extended hours.

Allie Willemstein, 33, of Westerville who was attending with her two daughters, Thea and Vera, said her family attends the festival every year and tries to visit every month's event.

"It feels like a big community party. It feels like we're a part of something bigger," she said.

She said her family lives near the Uptown area and moved there because they enjoy being a part of the close-knit community.

"That's why we like living here," she said.

Mount Carmel St. Ann's 4th Fridays are sponsored by the Westerville Visitors and Convention Bureau with support from Mount Carmel St. Ann's Hospital, the city of Westerville and the Arts Council of Westerville, according to an event press release. They are held the fourth Friday of each month, April through September, and feature food trucks, street vendors, extended hours in the Uptown shops and restaurants, and activities for children.

The next event, with a theme of Back to Nature, will take place May 24. Live animals and information on getting the most out of experiences in the outdoors will be featured.

Other events include June 28, Safety Fest; July 26, World Bazaar; Aug. 23, Dog Days of Summer; and Sept. 27, Farm in the City.

For more information about 4th Fridays and for road closure and traffic information go to visitwesterville.org/4th-friday-information.

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