This morning, Waukesha's own posted an interesting notice, on its Facebook page, regarding a meeting tonight (Feb 29th), to be held at City Hall. The topic of the meeting is the subject of creating "extensive and restrictive permits," for local businesses, and the intimation is that such permits would cripple Waukesha's highly popular "Friday Night Live" event.
Although I have not read the permit proposals, assuming there is a valid concern, to the impact to Friday Night Live, I offer a few thoughts.
My out-of-town friends and family members are impressed when I describe to them Waukesha's Friday Night Live. They tell me how they wish their town would have such an event, where families can go, safely (thanks to the blocked off streets), see live music, grab a bite to eat, and purchase interesting merchandise not available at their local box stores.
For many, Friday Night Live offers first contact with live music, helping to foster a life-long interest. My own kids play instruments, and although I have no direct proof, I attribute some of their enthusiasm to seeing the great responses the musicians get on the streets of Waukesha.
As for the impact to local commerce, as much as I adore downtown Waukesha, I do not live there. So, I might not get to Cuddles, or Sprizzo Caffe', or The Steaming Cup, or Magellan's, without the Friday Night Live REMINDER to do so. I likely would not have discovered the not-on-Main Street establishments, such as J.Lotti's and Outpost Music, had I not been walking around due to the festive nature of FNL. The event serves as icing on the great downtown offerings cake as well as an entree itself.
I see older kids walking around, in their small groups, laughing and smiling, causing no trouble at all, clapping and tapping their feet to the performers. I see well off, executive types, letting their hair down and chatting with the local characters, discussing a song, performed by "Francesca and the 440 Hum", or asking "What sandwich is that, and where did you get it?" I see people coming out of Galleria Edge, grinning at their surprise discovery, not of just their newly prized purchase, but at the very existence of the store.
I see community.
Friday Night Live is an organic, logical next step in the downtown revitalization project that has been ongoing for years. Without Downtown Live, the phrase, "Build it, and they will come," has no meaning for that area. A park with no ball game is no attraction at all. A Ferrari without wheels has no riders. An anthem without a hook is no anthem at all.
Keep the hook.
Oh wise Waukesha representatives, if you have a problem, with a leg, work to heal the leg. Don't cut it off.
Keep Friday Night alive.