State of Downtown 2015

Posted by Kim Leonard

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State of Downtown was last Thursday, which explains why I’m only just now getting around to posting about it. This year we kept with the happy hour time, but went a step further and separated our annual meeting from the event. We also offered valet parking to our sponsors and VIP’s because we’ve got swagger like that. Also, we just really love downtown based Central California Private Security and wanted to have an excuse to use their valet service.

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It was like a huge downtown pep rally, but better because we’re grown ups now so beer and wine from Tioga-Sequoia and Fresno State Winery were part of the happy hour. Oh, and this little gem:

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This beauty is the Kearney Boulevard, a cocktail created by Miriam Widenham just for downtown Fresno. Yes, blood oranges were harmed in the making of this drink. No, we didn’t event feel bad. While sipping this delicious concoction, guests were treated to live music.

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Pieter Moerdyk, known on the mean streets of Fresno as “the Ukulele King of the San Joaquin”, was spotted by Aaron at a holiday event and filed away for future use.  When it came time to choose a musician for the upstairs lounge, Aaron knew it just had to be Pieter. What was great is that even downstairs in the ballroom, the happy notes could be heard, adding a sweet and fun ambiance to all of the networking taking place.

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That’s right. That’s a sold-out, SRO, 550 people+ crowd, all mixing and mingling before the program began. THIS is what we’re talking about. THIS is what makes downtown rad.

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Well, this and the food. We had the event catered by downtown restaurants. Pictured above are some of the offerings from Peeve’s and Casa de Tamales, but we also had goodies from Yogurt Etc, Raizana, Joe’s Steakhouse and Shepherd’s Inn.

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If these faces look familiar to you, it’s because the event was emceed by KSEE 24 anchors George Takata and Carina Corral. They introduced Aaron Blair, who showed this video:

Then we heard from Mayor Ashley Swearengin, who basically dropped the mic with her reading of Mean Tweets.

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But seriously, we have the coolest mayor ever. In addition to the mean Tweets she campaigned heavily for Grizzlies Bobblehead glory and said some seriously real things about how we need to change hearts and minds about downtown. She issued a call to action to everyone to help bridge the gap, tell people about the great things, bring them downtown, show them and sell them on downtown Fresno. Enchanting our networks of people with downtown Fresno.

She then introduced the Al Allen Award. Al Allen was a Fulton Mall property owner who never wavered in his support of downtown. When he passed away in 2013 we knew we needed a way to remember him, so we created the Allen Award.

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John Ostlund, owner of JewelFM Gallery and co-owner of One Putt Broadcasting was the recipient of this year’s award.

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Then on to Dr. Castro of Fresno State University, who talked of partnerships with Bitwise and Fresno State Downtown Center.

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Then back to Aaron who introduced our new Downtown Fresno Foundation…

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…and this video for our Create Here Business Plan Competition:

Afterward attendees were urged to write how they were making a difference on our big ol’ chalk wall.

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People walked to their cars (or waited for the valet runners) as an LA band that was playing later that night at Peeve’s, Sweet Bump It, rocked Mariposa Plaza.

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Even the mayor got in the mix!

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Thank you again to all of our sponsors:

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And a massive shout out to CMAC for getting the whole shebang on video for us!

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