Second Alley Alive event draws hundreds to downtown
When most people see an alley, they don't see much.
But when Blue Weber sees one, he sees their importance and beauty.
"I really see the alleys as the whole heart of Grand Forks," Weber said. "People are starting to see that they have some meaning and they have some beauty hidden behind it."
Several hundred people gathered Wednesday evening in the most unique of locations in downtown Grand Forks—the alleys.
The second Alley Alive was designed to showcase how people can rethink the urban fabric of the downtown area and bring life to often overlooked spaces. The alleys were lined with people Wednesday who listened to live music, enjoyed the beer garden and talked with local artists.
Weber, an event organizer, said he hoped Alley Alive celebrated all that was great about the town.
"It's an all-over fun, cultural event to showcase Grand Forks," Weber said.
The first such event took place last month to dedicate the alley behind Kim Holmes' restaurant, Sanders 1907, "the Alley of Love." That was such a success that it was brought back again Wednesday night.
"The last one turned out so well and was so much fun that we don't want to stop," Weber said. "We want to keep this going."
Weber stressed the importance of alleys, saying so many people walk and drive through them, yet they're often neglected and shoved aside. An event like Alley Alive gets people off the main streets of downtown and allows them to visit other streets and businesses that they may not have noticed.
The event was scheduled to welcome college students back to town.
"This town goes from having about 40,000 people to 60,000 when UND is back in session," he said. "We figured one of the best ways to bring that to life was to welcome them into Grand Forks with an event like this one."
Many college students were gathered around the food trucks enjoying the sunny weather.
"This is such a cool thing that I would have never even thought of," said UND senior Liz Parker, who drove two friends to downtown to take part in the festivities.
Last month, local artists painting dumpsters from around town, and Wednesday's focus was on the sprucing up the alleyways' manholes.
Casey DeMars has participated in both events—painting Oscar the Grouch on the trash can and a whale on the manhole.
"It seemed fitting on both occasions," she said laughing.
DeMars said as long as she's invited to take part in the Alley Alive events, she'll keep coming back.
"I think it's a lot of fun," she said. "I think it's great for the community."
Weber said he hopes to eventually begin a nonprofit organization to host more Alley Alive events and highlight the talent of Grand Forks.
"I think what we're doing is great," he said. "And I just want to continue to build on this. Who knows what might happen?"