A new spin on First Fridays programming for York City

First Fridays brought thousands to York City's downtown last summer, and soon there will be more reasons to join the White Rose City's monthly celebration.

Starting in May, Downtown Inc will add live music, performances, arts and crafts, and vendors to Continental Square.

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The square has been mostly quiet during First Fridays, which Downtown Inc saw as an opportunity, according to Stacy McClain, the organization's marketing and events coordinator.

The idea is to draw visitors to businesses near the central square, as well as create a jumping-off point to other areas, such as Royal Square, which is a few blocks away, she said.

The organization also plans to position vendors in Royal Square and other parts of the city, including Beaver Street and WeCo.

Creating space in Continental Square will allow for the flexibility of not having to shut down a street for activities while bringing more of a festival feel to First Fridays.

McClain said musicians and vendors will be local, because showcasing what the area has to offer has always been the focus of the event.

She also promises “a lot of kids stuff,” which she said is needed downtown, especially on a Friday. 

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A popular celebration: York City has seen steady growth of its First Friday programming in recent years, with the events bringing about 46,000 people to the city over the course of the year in 2016, according to Downtown Inc's website.

First Fridays started in 2005 with a small group of merchants in Central Market and on nearby streets, according to a news release, which states the monthly celebration now stretches throughout downtown, with dozens of participating businesses hosting special events, offering promotions and sponsoring entertainment.

The year-round tradition runs from 5 to 9 p.m. on the first Friday of each month.

First Fridays drew about 8,000 people in its peak warm weather months last year, which prompted the idea of expanding programming, the release states.

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Sponsoring businesses: First Friday programming is sponsored by WellSpan Health, which assists Downtown Inc in funding promotional activities for merchant groups and businesses.

Downtown Inc plans to make at least $12,000 available to businesses for programming and promotional activities and has reserved up to $3,600 to cover the expenses of street closures organized by merchant groups in WeCo, Royal Square and the Market District, according to the organization.

First Fridays Continental Square programming will run from May through November, and regular programming will continue to run for all other months of the year.

The next event will be Friday, Feb. 2. For more information, visit downtownyorkpa.com.

Applications for programming can be found through Downtown Inc.'s website under First Fridays and First Friday Representation Downtown, and two weeks' notice is required to apply.