The Downtown Gloucester Block Party Series will celebrate its seventh year at a gala kick-off on Main Street on Saturday, July 19 at 6 p.m. In addition to stages filled with live music and streets filled with dozens of merchants and restaurants, this year’s event includes the new Art Town on Center Street, where artists and artisans will have display and informational. We recently asked event organizer Valerie Marcley to share some of the reasons why Downtown Gloucester Block Party Series has become such a cherished summertime staple in the community.
How did the idea Downtown Gloucester Block Party series come to life and what was the original vision?
The Downtown Gloucester Block Parties were initiated in 2007 by a group of savvy and creative business people. As the malls were creeping down the pike (Route 128), they were concerned that downtown Gloucester businesses would suffer. So they organized stores and restaurants in a block party festival that takes place several times every summer. In addition to a variety of live entertainment, including nationally known artists, restaurants extend their space to serve in the street and retail stores stay open late for shopping. The event is now several blocks long and features five entertainment stages for all ages.
Has the event met expectations?
The Block Parties has been a tremendous success. Our businesses are thriving and the City and our sponsors are very supportive. The event is so successful, communities surrounding Cape Ann have adopted the idea and hold their own block parties.
The event has attracted so many people, what drives its success?
Our success is due to the variety of activities and entertainment which appeals to all ages. Support from the people of Gloucester and City Hall has been tremendous and that is very encouraging to organizers. One thing we do every year is to introduce something new. We also have a group of talented people who produced the Block Party Series. Plus, out-of-town folks like to come to see Gloucester itself because it’s a stunningly beautiful, multi-faceted community.
What’s the most challenging aspect of the event – choosing what to eat or what to buy?
The restaurants are jammed and we’ve never received complaints that our audience is not served well! What to eat or what to buy? Not a bad challenge to have! I think we offer people what makes them happy.
Seriously, Gloucester has worked very hard to promote downtown and the Downtown Gloucester Block Party series has been a great campaign that celebrates the vibrancy of the district. How do you see the series growing in the future?
We will continue to introduce something new each year. This year, we are reaching out to seniors with a special September Block Party featuring jazz and our Main street cinema will offer free movies and a place to relax on sofas. We’ve wanted more seniors to attend, so we are asking them to be involved this year. We already address the children with Kids’ Town to keep them amused. We hope for more budget for promotion in the future. That too has been growing each year.
What’s the one thing every resident in Gloucester should know about the Downtown Block Party series?
It’s FREE!!! And It’s fun!!!! There’s something for everyone. It’s a place to meet old and new friends. Guests can enjoy our restaurants or a quick snack at our food vendor area. The five stages with live entertainment provide so many choices. And our stores are eclectic, very interesting to browse through. We are open to all kinds of entertainment and suggestions from our audience, so please reach out to us at our website http://www.glostablockparty.com.