Revitalizing downtown’s image through Truckee Thursdays event
August 1, 2008
Truckee Thursdays is shaping up to be more than just an economic stimulator and community gathering affair in downtown Truckee.
The Commercial Row event is providing a resurgence to the historic core, transforming the once subdued stretch into a thriving hub of music, food, artistry and merchandise one week at a time.
“Every downtown needs constant focus to keep the area alive and vibrant,” said Stefanie Olivieri, president of the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association. “It doesn’t just happen ” it requires nurturing by the whole community.”
And the community of locals, vacationers and second homeowners are showing up every Thursday to support and strengthen civic officials’ efforts to revive downtown’s image, Olivieri said.
When the event kicked off in late June, attendance ranged from 4,000 to 5,000 participants, and has since grown to reach approximately 8,000 guests, Olivieri said.
“Whenever you have that many people coming together in one area, it really stimulates the economy,” she said. “Truckee Thursdays is a chance for people to come together again as a community.”
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It’s also a chance for town government to partner with the merchants association, taking historic downtown Truckee to the next level of entertainment, commerce and community synergy, said David Griffith, Truckee redevelopment and housing coordinator.
“The overall intent is to bring more activity to downtown Truckee,” Griffith said. “This is just the beginning of expanding the downtown association and working toward a bigger goal.”
The ultimate target is to bring the Main Street Program to Truckee, a nationally recognized organization used to educate and empower urban communities through grassroots economic development, Griffith said.
“It’s all about bringing the residents back to downtown Truckee, making it feel like it’s their town again,” Griffith said.
Another goal is to expand the merchants association by adding a beautification and improvement district to downtown and create an executive director position to plan year-round activities in Truckee and more collaboration with North Lake Tahoe, Griffith said.
“Truckee Thursdays is being used as a way to jumpstart the whole bigger picture,” Griffith said.
But Truckee Thursdays is fueling more than local agency growth and activity. The event is putting the mountain town’s commercial core on the map as a music, art and retail venue, said Alyssa Westenburg, owner of the Tourist Club and music organizer for the Thursday venue.
At the July 31 gathering, Westenburg was able to book Shaun Kama’s Los Angeles-based Kings of the Wild Frontier band, she said.
“Bands of this caliber will typically cost more than most local venues are able to support,” Westenburg said. “That’s what makes events such as Truckee Thursday’s so important. They allow us to bring a diverse group of entertainment to Truckee that we would otherwise not be able to afford.”
The four-person line up recently played a sold-out show at L.A.’s House of Blues on the Sunset Strip, but their rising fame will not keep them from venturing back to Truckee to rock out for the locals, said the band’s frontman Shaun Kama.
“The show on Thursday was a total success,” Kama said. “There were people of all ages in the audience from grandparents to little kids, which I think is really a testament to your music.”
The band tours nationwide and is planning another stop in Truckee before the New Year, Kama said.
“I love Truckee. It’s such a beautiful place to hang out and play live music,” Kama said. “It [Truckee Thursdays] was the perfect kind of event for us.”
Those that missed the Kings of the Wild Frontier can check out another nationally-recognized Johnny Cash tribute band ” Cash’d Out ” that will be making it’s way through Truckee on August 7, Westenburg said.
“Exposing Truckee to other types of bands is great,” Westenburg said. “Being able to enjoy a free concert of this magnitude is certainly exciting. It doesn’t come along everyday.”
Truckee Thursdays will wrap up the 10-week stretch on August 28, but residents and out-of-towners will have a lot to look forward to for next summer like a full-on farmers market, more events geared toward children and an improved “Pedal There Thursdays.”
“When you go to Truckee on Thursday night you really sense the enthusiasm,” said Bob Fink, resident and Truckee Thursdays volunteer. “It’s important for Truckee to continue doing this ” it’s something that makes it even more special.”