Greg Bassett: Something is going on in our Downtown

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As last week’s cover photo showed, there were a lot of people attending the most-recent 3rd Friday.

Some amazing high-quality photographs from SMDi Photography showed hundreds upon hundreds of happy 3rd Fridayers, crawling all over the the Downtown Plaza. As the cover photo showed, there were more than 1,000 people on hand to watch the dancers on North Division Street.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many people in the downtown before.

What the heck is going on?

When I asked that question last week via social media, the answers were as varied as they were inspiring. I’ve continued asking the question in personal conversations since, trying to get some united understanding in why — all of a sudden — Salisbury seems like a cool place where people want to be.

Memo Diriker, president of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, quickly observed: “It really felt like a wonderful and huge family reunion.” The business professor concluded, in all-capital letters: “I LOVE SALISBURY, I LOVE OUR DOWNTOWN, I LOVE 3RD FRIDAY!!!

You could almost feel the good doctor gushing.

OK, so why were there so many people downtown?

“Exuberant volunteers caused it,” said Michael Perry. “And people who like Salisbury enough to give it a second chance during these events.”

Mayor Jim Ireton commented, crediting the volunteers and their leader.

“Jamie Heater and her volunteers are the best,” the mayor said. “I’m proud to be a part of this progress.”

To which the aforementioned Jamie Heater responded: “The peeps have spoken! Goodness, togetherness, and imagination … or bust!”

I can see now why Jamie is the leader of these volunteers.

There were some interesting observations saluting the overall community. From Paula Morris: “… and there’s more in store. I am so glad to be part of this vibrant community!”

“It is a fun time to live in Salisbury! Thanks to all who are working hard to make it so!”, said Martin Hutchison.

“So excited about Downtown Salisbury … love seeing it come alive again,” said Barbie Pope Hannemann. “Such fond memories of downtown as a child. Many thanks to our young people for their persistence!”

Patty Young tossed a love bocquet to City Council President Jacob Day.

“It’s called the election of Jake Day, who has the presence of mind to take advantage of the young talent as well as the old and the to see the possibilities that always existed in Downtown Salisbury. It is called choosing to make a difference.”

Day himself weighed in, making the transformation that’s under way seem all-the-more-personal.

“It’s about self-esteem,” Day wrote. “When a community begins to believe in itself, we can realize our potential.”

The best observation of all came from a woman whose family is synonymous with Downtown Salisbury, who has operated a business there continuously for decade and never yielded to economic pressures that would have made leaving a logical move.

“Jamie and her merry band of 3rd Fridayers have made downtown Salisbury the place to be!” wrote Susan Purnell of Kuhn’s Jewelers on the Plaza.

“We at Kuhn’s are just thrilled to be a part of the Renaissance and to feel the love from all our visitors on these special nights.

“I’m so glad we have stayed here through thick and thin,” Purnell said.

Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at gbassett@newszap.com

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