City preparing for Thursday’s downtown block partyFor the fifth straight year in downtown Jamestown, the students at Jamestown College will have a venue to interact with businesses, organizations and all members of the community.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
For the fifth straight year in downtown Jamestown, the students at Jamestown College will have a venue to interact with businesses, organizations and all members of the community.
From 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, the annual College Community Connection Block Party will be held along First Avenue for an evening of entertainment, games and welcoming from all sectors of the city of Jamestown.
“It’s really a rite of passage into the community,” said Bob Badal, president of Jamestown College. “It’s not only great for businesses and our college, but it’s a chance for Jamestown residents to see everything our city offers as well.”
Each year for this late-August event, Badal and his wife — with the Jamestown College flag in tote — lead all new JC students in a walk from campus to the streets of downtown Jamestown.
“I don’t know of a town that does what we do in terms of something like this,” Badal said. “It allows the students to feel so good about the opportunity to connect to their city — especially new students who will be making this their home for the next four years.”
More than 3,000 community members and students combined attended the event in 2011, as 85 booths were set up in downtown. Those totals are expected to be exceeded this year, according to Lisa Hicks, co-chair of the block party on behalf of the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce.
“We have more than 85 booths this year — so many that we even have a waiting list for local businesses who wanted to be part of the event,” she said.
Hicks said there will be quite a diverse group of organizations and businesses represented Thursday evening.
“Churches, hotels, hair salons, car dealerships, banks, clothing stores, service organizations from the college … even both political parties will be there. You name it in Jamestown, you’ll most likely see it on Thursday,” she said.
By welcoming new students and establishing networks at an event such as this, it’s a win-win for both the students and the community/businesses, according to Tena Lawrence, dean of enrollment management with JC.
“It’s about letting the students know the community welcomes them as consumers and potentially as workers,” she said. “The community wants them to be involved by doing things like joining churches and organizations and becoming part of the workforce if they’d like, too.”
Based on the feedback he hears from students each year, the block party is among the favorite events the college helps put on at the beginning of each school year, according to Gary Van Zinderen, JC’s dean of students.
“This is one of their favorite events at the beginning of the year,” said Van Zinderen, who is serving as co-chair of the block party on behalf of Jamestown College. “It’s just a great way to wrap up the summer and kick off the school year.”
The block party will be set up in downtown along First Avenue from Third Street South near the Alfred Dickey Library to First Street by the Buffalo City Grill. Those areas of First Avenue will be blocked off and detours routes will be available similar to when other events are held in downtown such as Crazy Day, according to Scott Edinger, Jamestown police chief.
“Nothing out of the ordinary for Thursday, and we’ve never had any big issues or concerns with this event in years past,” Edinger said. “Just want to warn people to be aware of the extra stop signs along the side roads and be sure to watch their speed as well.”
Entertainment and games, including inflatables, air games and a Hot Wheels track from Don Wilhelm’s will be available. Both Jamestown-based radio stations — Ingstad Family Media and KSJB/MIX 93.3 — will be broadcasting live in addition to performances from a group called the “Blues Brothers.”
Hicks said the block party should make for an outing for the whole family as well.
“With the inflatables and fun things to do for the kids, it’s a fun, family event that’s also a free night out for everybody,” she said.
For more information about the block party, contact Hicks at 701-252-4830 or firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Van Zinderen at 701-252-3467, ext. 5563, or email@example.com.
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org