By Sarah Jane Weill
This summer, on the first Thursday of every month Armonk Square comes alive with fun, laughter, and dancing. These nights are appropriately called First Thursday, an event designed by the Armonk Chamber of Commerce to offer “art, music, in-store promotion, dining, wine tastings and more” for the Armonk community and its residents. A First Thursday night, lasting from 5-9 p.m., has occurred in June, July, and August so far. The last one will take place on September 3rd.
With the newly built Armonk Square, the town now has the opportunity to host even more exciting events. “The Chamber had been working to bring some distinctive events to town with the intent to bring more business to the businesses,” explains Armonk Chamber of Commerce President Neal Schwartz. Therefore, the creation of First Thursday seemed a great way to combine Armonk’s wide variety of restaurants with music and art for a whole evening of activity that would appeal to residents and benefit business. “First Thursday was a natural fit during the warmer summer months,” he adds when comparing it to some of the Chamber’s other popular events such as Frosty Day, a Cider and Donut Festival, and Citizen of the Year golf outing and dinners.
So far, it seems that First Thursday is working out great. “Overall the merchants are very happy with the launch of First Thursday this year,” says Schwartz. “All had customers that came in because of First Thursday.” This past First Thursday on Aug. 6th was no exception. “First Thursday was a gutsy move during the summer, when so many students and parents are literally out of town. But, to our delight, this past First Thursday had more attendees and a constant flow of families with strollers and dog walkers; crystal clear indicators that these [visits to the event] were planned in advance,” Schwartz reports.
Visiting the August First Thursday, there was no doubt as to the great success of this event. These are events for all. People can come and go as they please, enjoying the festivities in their own way. Indeed, there is a range of people in the square during the First Thursday: some people are milling about, circling the town, doing errands or going to dinner. Other people are sitting on benches, talking among themselves or just listening to the music, taking in the evening slowly. Waves of more and more people come throughout the night, assuring that the square was never empty during First Thursday.
“I think it’s a great community builder and great that the merchants buy into it. It’s something to do,” Armonk resident Barbara Reiter says as she describes how she thinks First Thursday has added to the community. “Look at all the little kids” she continues, nodding to a group of adorable kids dancing with pure delight in the middle of the square, “when my kids were little I wish they did this!”
Indeed, this is a perfect atmosphere for families. The whole center of the square is filled with thrilled young children: all running around, dancing up close and personal with the live musicians, their faces sticky with frozen yogurt. For them, it seems, this is a perfect opportunity to release that final bit of energy coursing through their veins after a day at camp or playing with friends. Also, this past First Thursday there was a juggling stilt-walker, who turned out to be great entertainment for children, and people, of all ages.
Just think–this great success has only been achieved in three nights of First Thursday. Looking forward, the possibilities to expand and strengthen the event are numerous. “We know it takes time to further develop First Thursday, but our start in 2015 has been great,” Schwartz concludes when addressing what the future might hold for First Thursday. “We plan on adding more Armonk talent to First Thursday and more art in 2016,” he added.
The effort to put on a successful event like this is enormous, and it shows. Those behind it: Robby Morris, Stacy Wilder, and plenty of others, truly worked hard to create an event that would draw people out of their homes to enjoy all that small town life has to offer while promoting local business. Indeed, all of the necessary ingredients came together in crafting this event. It’s a wonderful way to spend the waning hours of a hot summer’s Thursday, and we can’t wait for the next one.
Sarah Jane Weill attends Bowdoin College. She is a member of the Horace Greeley Class of 2014.