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First Friday Has Held its Last Event in Doylestown

The organizers of First Friday said that the monthly event is finished, after eight years.

First Friday Doylestown has held its last event.

Organizers of the monthly celebration said Tuesday that the event is coming to an end. The First Friday scheduled for this Friday will not be held as planned.

Leaders of the volunteer committee that organizes First Friday made the announcement official on Tuesday, just three days before the September event.

One of the main reasons for the quick suspension of the program is money, they said.

"At the end of the day, what probably prompted it to happen today is we were nearing our $7,500 allotment for police overtime," said Bob Quon, the head of the committee. "And because we have no funding, we could not afford to pay police overtime."

Running in the early evening hours, First Friday required supplemental police protection, the cost of which was tracked by the borough. A few years ago, the borough agreed to waive the first $7,500 in costs, but First Friday would have to pay for police services beyond that.

Borough manager John Davis said the group has used about $7,100 of that allotment already this year. The event scheduled for this Friday, Sept. 7, would have generated a bill for the group for the first time ever, Davis said.

The only source of income for the group comes from a $150 joining fee that participating businesses pay, Quon said. Over the years, the same business owners have been participating while fewer new business owners have joined, leading to a depletion in cash flow.

With no money coming in, and the police costs approaching the limit, Quon said the time was right to end it.

"We wanted to go out on our own terms," he said. "There was no pressure from the borough, or from neighborhood groups. It was just something that I had been feeling from the longtime volunteers on the committee. It was the right timing. It’s been a great eight years."

First Friday Doylestown began in 2005 as a way to attract people to the borough's downtown and to patronize its retail stores.

The committee organized themes, outdoor entertainment, live music and more, while retailers offered special discounts and events in their shops.

That is what one volunteer organizer said she would miss the most.

Jill Kahlenberg started volunteering with First Friday about four years ago, heading up the music committee. A music lover, Kahlenberg said she grew to admire the talent in the Doylestown area of musicians of all ages.

"It's been a wonderful experience for me," she said, adding, "the music scene here has continued to grow.

“We’re all disappointed that we can’t continue with it,” said Kahlenberg, who now handles marketing for the group. “We loved working with the retailers and the musicians. But we realized that sometimes you have to make those hard decisions.”

The event came under fire occasionally over the years from some business owners who said it did them more harm than good.

And in 2011, some residents who live near the downtown area started the Anti-First Friday Coalition, pushing for an end to both the event and the borough's financial support of it.

In April, Doylestown Borough Council members agreed to work with residents to try to ameliorate the effects of the crowds, while they continued the borough's support of the event.

Davis praised the volunteers who ran First Friday for so many years.

"They did a great job. They put on a wonderful event," Davis said. "I think the community benefitted tremendously. It’s definitely a loss."

Quon said he has learned a lot over the past eight years of involvement with First Friday Doylestown.

"We have talented people of all ages that are artists and musicians. We have wonderful retailers in town. We have a proactive local government that is willing to work to make things better," he said. "When residents and community members voice their opinions, we’re able to react very quickly to make things better.

"In the end, I learned that grassroots efforts can lead to something marvelous in a town like Doylestown. Maybe this will morph into something wonderful."

 

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S September 05, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Living in the boro, I can say visually there was no decline in attendance, and I didn't see it out-"growing itself". Sad to see the businesses were so willing to let it die, instead of stepping up... most towns would KILL to be able to start up something as successful as our own Doylestown First Friday Program, and people are just letting it peter out. A total shame in my opinion.
S September 05, 2012 at 01:09 PM
I agree. I moved here for the same reason about 2 years ago, and I guess I thought more of the residents would embrace this type of event and help it to evolve if that's what it needed. Doylestown is the perfect balance of a historic charm with boisterous, lively events full of town pride. Why any individuals would want to squash an event that embodies this in the heart of the town is foolish.
J September 05, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Good riddance.
Bettina September 05, 2012 at 03:41 PM
you can always move out, no one's holding you down.
susan September 07, 2012 at 01:03 AM
I agree with S, I thought it was a great community event, and enjoyed going as often as we could. I work in Flemington NJ and that is becoming a real ghost town. Every other business storefront is for rent. Doylestown is such a great example of a community that has done alot of things right, and I'm sorry to see this come to an end.

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