October First Fridays Art Walk will happen

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - First Fridays is making a comeback! The event will take place next week: the first Friday in October. This after violence and other issues forced organizers to cancel September's art walk. Now you'll notice changes at this Richmond tradition.

After a chaotic scene at August's First Fridays was captured on Youtube video, the event needed a reset of sorts.

"From a business owner, you don't know how to react to an event like that. It completely overwhelmed all of us. It scared us," said Scott Garnett.

Garnett with the Downtown Neighborhood Association tells me that concern led to a rally among art groups, businesses, city officials and police to make sure the October art walk isn't plagued with issues.

Richmond police tell us officers will be staffing this event although they won't give us specifics on tactical information like where those officers will be and how many will be down here.

"We need them here in case something is to arise," Garnett said.

Last month police arrested four boys between 15 and 17 and one 20 year old man. Now the group is focusing on that population-- asking students from VCU, VUU and U of R to act as ambassadors.

"I'm in my early 40s. I might not be able to relate to a younger person out on the streets where as these kids are between 18 and 21 years old, they're going to listen to the same music and have similar interests," he explained.

Almost everyone we've spoken to says First Fridays has had such a positive impact by bringing people to this blighted area of the city.

"It's definitely bigger than Fridays after sunset. I believe it's bigger than the crowds you get at Friday Cheers," said Charles Samuels with Richmond City Council. "It attracts approximately 5,000 people twelve times a year on the first Friday of every month to the downtown area."

They simply cannot afford to lose it.

"We've got to continue this and this has to be a part of downtown," Garnett said.

For those of you who might feel overwhelmed by the large crowds, a gallery night is planned the Thursday before First Fridays where some of the shops will be open on a smaller scale for you to enjoy the art.

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