When we think of a “tradition,” we’re often thinking of events that, like St. Peter’s Fiesta or even the Gloucester Schooner Festival, date back decades.
Yet one event that will be renewed this weekend has, in many ways, already been well-established as a “tradition” for Gloucester’s downtown. It’s the Downtown Block Parties, which will burst onto the downtown scene for a sixth season and a 16th time overall Saturday beginning at 6 p.m.
In some ways, it doesn’t seem possible that it was six years ago that entrepreneurs like Peter and Vicki Van Ness, Joe Ciaramitaro, Mark McDonough, Janice Shea, Linn Parisi and others worked to pull together the very first Block Party in August 2008 — and wondered if anyone would show up. After all, the idea of sidewalk dining hosted by local restaurants, and music and dancing in a Main Street often clogged with auto traffic was a relatively foreign concept to most Gloucester business owners and residents.
That’s sure not the case now. Indeed, the Block Parties have expanded since the first one created a pedestrian mall only from Hancock to Washington streets, stretching in recent years from Washington up to Pleasant and Duncan streets, with more and more things to do, and more willing shop owners poised to reach out to Saturday night shoppers as well.
Above all, the Block Parties provide a showcase for Gloucester’s downtown, and a chance for local residents and visitors alike to enjoy a night out in the city’s center. That is truly a tradition — and one worth perpetuating for years to come.