The streets of downtown Mesa lit up Friday night as musical performers, artists and vendors displayed their work and businesses stayed open late to entertain people who came out for the city’s monthly “Friday Night Out.”
Though not quite bustling, the sidewalks of Main Street had a fair amount of people who came out to shop, eat or just to stroll.
“It’s really nice to see downtown Mesa come alive once in a while,” said Beth Allen, who was enjoying her first time at Friday Night Out with her family.
“We’re finding shops and stores we didn’t know were here,” Allen said as her 4-year-old twin grandsons admired a display in a store window.
Friday Night Out is coordinated by the local merchants of the downtown Mesa district. Kim Johnson of Mystic Paper, a stationery shop downtown, was an original contributor to the creation and growth of the event, which takes place the second Friday of each month.
Johnson has watched the event expand as more businesses participate each month and word spreads among residents.
“As the weather cools down, more and more people come out,” Johnson said.
Merchants and community organizations leave their doors open and some set up in tables along the sidewalk promoting the products they have to offer and getting word out about the services they provide.
Joey Smigel and her daughter Danielle participated in the event for the first time Friday. They set up a display of potpourri and scented designs that they are hoping to sell.
“I really believe this is more of what people are looking for,” said Smigel. “They have been really careful not to let it become too commercialized.”
Pat Furiga, who also participated for the first time Friday, realized that the handmade wool hats she was selling may not be the most sought-after item on a hot Arizona night, but she was still excited to be a part of it.
“My favorite thing, I think, is the people,” Furiga said. “They’ve all been so nice, coming up and making conversation.”
Alongside the newcomers, many merchants and stores have participated in this event frequently.
Michael and Trevor Woodford, a father and son who own the office and gallery building known as OneOhOne, said they have participated in all but one of the city’s Friday Night Out events, and the Woodfords believe that it is a positive thing for their family’s newly acquired property.
“We get a lot of foot traffic,” said Trevor Woodford.
The building showcases musical performers in front and refreshments inside, where visitors can escape the heat and admire the month’s gallery exhibit.
“You always see the clusters of people around music,” Trevor Woodford said.