7 years ago a group of merchants in Downtown created First Fridays, modeling it after similar events in small communities around the country. It has been a success beyond belief! So why would a group of those merchants want to end it? Because too many people are having fun and .......DRINKING...Yep that is the PROBLEM! According to these Tea-totaling nannies. It's now a new "plan" to "control" it. I and others have been fighting to keep it an open, free, easy going affair for all of the years I have been downtown. Every year, 3 or 4 voices complain about exactly the same thing with no new arguments. Rather than make our meeting an exciting creative planning session for the upcoming year, we instead spend 60% of the meeting discussing the same old business. The fact is the solution to these complainers has been reached by each business exercising individual liberty and controlling the situation at their own doorways. But for 3 people that's not enough..until they can control, manipulate and otherwise Nanny the rest of us and our guests to death, they will not relent. Many previous attendees of these meeting have stopped attending rather than listen to this incessant nagging. I still show up but each year I am finding myself arguing the points alone. It reminds me of when I was married..an issue bubbles up, and I compromise; 6 months later the same issue and I'm expected to compromise again until I'm a hen pecked cowering husband doing whatever I'm told to do, to avoid conflict. Sorry WRONG GUY!! Also I'm right on this and I'm not gonna cave even if I have to be the only one who speaks up. Don't worry it looks like we are safe to have fun for another year!!
Here are the facts the city knows it, the mayor knows it, DRC knows it and most of the downtown shop owners know it's true: The Taverns, Restaurants, and Clubs ( TRC), Pay more taxes, employ more people, provide more wealth and value to our city, than all of the merchants, lawyers, banks etc. combined!! I am hoping more businesses will join our district in the future once the economy turns a bit, but I don't expect it until late 2012 early 2013. West Racine, Uptown, State St. Douglas Ave and even the Mall would like to have what we have on First Friday. Stop complaining!!
I have kept this discussion out of the public for 5 years now.I decided the best way to deal with it is to let the light shine on the problem and let's get back to having fun!!
BTW to my Lefty Neighbors...Look around at the crowds on First Fridays. Mostly white 35-70 years old, middle to upper income folks and homeowners, most do not live in the urban part of the city, but rather from around the city.. Guess what those "Customers" are REPUBLICANS not Dems. Stop throwing cold water on their party! These are the customers you have products in your store to sell to!