There’s going to be a block party in downtown Marion. On Thursday (August 15), South Main Street, between Center and Church streets, will be temporarily transformed into a pedestrian mall replete with pop-up stores, an art gallery, and local restaurants spilling out into the street. The event is part of a national effort known as Better Block.
“We want to re-imaging what our streets and community spaces could feel like if they were more focused on people and not vehicles,” said Erin Creeden, Health Policy Specialist with Marion Public Health.
Marion’s version, called “We Are a Better Block,” has been organized by Downtown Marion, Inc., Marion Public Health, and the Marion Regional Planning Commission. It will be held in conjunction with–and directly adjacent to—August’s 3rd Thursday event and farmers’ market, taking place from 4-9 p.m.
The Better Block event will feature exclusively local businesses that will set up booths street-fair-style for the evening event. Marion businesses who have committed to participate include: Main Squeeze Juices and Smoothies, Topped, Baires Restaurant, The Candy Shack, Attaboys Comfort Cuisine, Brave Woman Boutique, Hope Crossing Christian Books & Gifts, Southern Accents Boutique at Charleston Place, The Explore-It-Torium, Marion Brewing Co., Curiosity, and Willy + Wade. Additions are welcome.
Because Better Block will be going on during 3rd Thursday, presented By McDaniel Automotive , attendees will also be able to enjoy live music by local rock band Cherry Blonde and peruse the food and craft offerings of the Marion Ohio Farmers Market.
Activities will be going on all over downtown Marion during this event. The Guild will be doing chalk art with a small additional art gallery. Willy + Wade will be debuting a vintage truck they have made into a mobile retail store for their clothing and leather goods. One of the newest downtown stores, Brave Woman Boutique, will have a pop-up store on site with their ladies’ clothing and accessories. Main Street restaurants, Baires and Topped will add outdoor seating and be joined by The Candy Shack and Main Squeeze to provide a selection of food offerings throughout the evening. Downtown restaurants and businesses will be staying opening late, until 9 p.m.
“It will be a fun night, combining the final 3rd Thursday of the season, the farmers’ market, and the Better Block event,” said Clarissa Myers, manager of Downtown Marion, Inc.
The Better Block project started in April 2010, when a group of community organizers in Dallas, Texas, gathered to revitalize a single commercial block in an underused neighborhood corridor. The area was filled with vacant properties, wide streets, and few amenities for people who lived within walking distance. The group brought together resources from the community and temporarily converted the block into a walkable, bikeable neighborhood destination for people of all ages, complete with bike lanes, cafe seating, trees, plants, pop-up businesses, and lighting.
Better Blocks have a two-fold purpose: they show community members that they have the power to make changes in their neighborhoods, and they show how these changes would work. The movement is promoted by the Better Block Foundation and has been adapted to communities all over the country and throughout Ohio, including Akron, Copley, and Lorain.
The downtown block of South Main Street will close at 11 a.m. on Thursday morning and re-open shortly after the event.