"First Fridays" help revitalize downtown - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

"First Fridays" help revitalize downtown

October 3, 2005

Valdosta - The streets of downtown Valdosta are quiet now, but come Friday night, they'll be filled with people enjoying the hot spots of this historic district. "There's a lot of things downtown that people just don't know about, a lot of really cool and interesting shops you won't find anywhere else," said Melissa McNicol.

Thanks to a new event called "First Fridays," more people can learn the hidden secrets of downtown, and experience them first hand. On the first Friday of every month, downtown businesses will stay open three hours later than usual, and offer special discounts and promotional activities to attract new patrons. "A lot of businesses bring stuff out on the sidewalks, there will be musicians, barbecue, food, artists, sidewalk sales," said Hatcher.

It's one of the fastest growing areas of Valdosta, with eight new businesses moving in in the past year. "First Fridays" is a chance to convince more people to spend their time, and money here. "You can go to any McDonalds across the country and see the same thing but come to downtown Valdosta and go to Hildegard's, Tuffles, Bistro, other places, and its going to be unique to that shop, you can't find it anywhere else," said Hatcher.

And to coincide with the event, the Chamber is also starting a group called the "Young Professionals." They'll meet downtown on the first Friday of every month to network and enjoy the night life of downtown Valdosta. "A lot of times people go out of town to find things to do, but this group will get together to decide what we can do to keep all this within Valdosta," said Betsy Harrell.

It's a way to show off the uniqueness of this rapidly growing downtown, and help bring even more businesses to the area.

"First Fridays" start at 6:00 and end at 9:00. The "Young Professionals" group will meet on the first Friday of the month at Lulu's at 4:30.

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