Businesses and residents call for ‘Downtown Alive’ to be a permanent summer event

Downtown Alive opening weekend

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - It’s been a boom for business in downtown Wilmington this weekend as a new initiative allows restaurants and retailers to expand their outdoor space.

Four days in to ‘Downtown Alive’ and businesses have already started to see more customers. And people say this is something they’d like to see permanently.

The influx of people has given businesses hope they’ll be able to recover from months of no business.

”The hesitation to come and dine out has decreased because outdoor seating feels more comfortable, you don’t feel as packed into a space,” said Jonathan Weathington, CEO of Shuckin Shack Oyster Bar franchising. “Along with additional items we have in place in addition to sanitation, I think it makes people feel more at ease.”

Downtown goers say this is right up their alley. There’s been support over the years for Front Street to be a pedestrian thoroughfare. They’d like to see Downtown Alive happen past the September 7th end date.

”I really like it, personally I think they should do this every summer,” said Miles McCall. “All summer because it makes it like a festival and during the day there’s no crowds.”

There are some opposing opinions however about the protesters that march down the streets chanting and holding signs. But at least one business owner said he doesn’t mind it.

”Totally peaceful, it was a little loud but I never felt like any of it was vulgar,” said Weathington. “Downtown is safe, it’s safe.”

But patrons aren’t so sure.

”I don’t like it,” said Jane McCall.

”I just try to tune it out, they’re walking through, they’ll be gone,” said Miles McCall.

But, no matter the feelings, people say they’re eager to come back day after day. And the hope is that Downtown Alive will become a new Wilmington staple.

Remember Downtown Alive is scheduled to take place on Thursdays through Sundays for the rest of summer and through Labor Day.

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