This year marks the fifth summer for the popular Downtown Gloucester Block Party series on Main Street. The downtown Block Parties – always free to the public – take place this summer on the Saturday evenings of July 21, Aug. 18, and Sept. 15, with all events starting at 6 p.m.
The event is not just a great opportunity for residents and visitors to patronize downtown businesses. It provides a showcase for the city’s wonderful outdoor dining, music, arts, and retail scene in a five-block-long celebration that spans from Pleasant to Washington streets and around the corner to Rogers Street.
The event could not happen without the amazing volunteer efforts of all of the businesses on Main Street working hand in hand with the city’s police department and Department of Public Works and dozens of other volunteers. Of course, the Block Parties could not be held without the support of sponsors. Thanks to Ban Gloucester, Varian (a division of Applied Materials), Gorton’s of Gloucester, Stop & Shop, Rockport National Bank, Hiltz Disposal, Intershell, GimmeLIVE, and the Gloucester Daily Times.
Valerie Marcley, who coordinated the Downtown Gloucester Block Party series this year and last, deserves special recognition for her hard work, especially booking great acts for the five downtown stages that are at the heart of the event.
One week from tonight, Allen Estes and his son Dylan will perform on the Sargent Stage. The father-and-son combo are known for their tantalizing blend of country, rock, and folk music. They will be joined by more than a dozen other performers, including a sure-to-be-interesting act by the OmBellyCo Tribal Dance Troupe, the always popular cast from the Cape Ann Center for Dance, and for families, 9-year-old vocalist Kam Diaz, who will perform show tunes, classics, even Italian ballads, with The Dynamic Duo.
The Block Party series is truly special because of its unique Gloucester flair. One element that everybody loves is the alfresco dining attraction. You don’t have to be a foodie to enjoy the European sidewalk café atmosphere featured at the Block Party. Guests take in the sights and savory scents of some of the city’s best cuisine, all while relaxing in the cooling breeze that floats up from the harbor.
As guests eat or stroll, Main Street transforms into a stage right before their eyes as performers – including circus acts, magicians, minstrels, and sword swallowers – provide a feast for the eyes. All of the performers are family-friendly and there are great activities and games for the children in Kid’s Town.
It’s wonderful to see the Downtown Gloucester Block Party Series come so far from its humble roots as an event that was conceived as a way to bring folks downtown. A group of citizens got together in 2008 and came up with the Block Party idea and made it happen. Joey Ciaramitaro, Erika Hansen, City Council President Jackie Hardy, Janice Lufkin Shea, Linn Parisi, and Vickie and Peter Van Ness worked tirelessly to pull off what has become a celebration of Gloucester’s downtown attended by thousands of people.
To learn more, visit www.glostablockparty.com. Next weekend, the streets will come alive with the essence of Gloucester. If you have been to a Block Party, you know how festive it is. If you haven’t, come down and reacquaint yourself to the vibrancy of our beautiful city.
I hope to see you there!
Carolyn Kirk is mayor of the city of Gloucester.