Sign of Recovery: First Friday bounces back in Downtown Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The weather is warm, visitor numbers appear up, COVID numbers are low and First Friday was booming! For the first time in a year, it wasn’t virtual.

The event’s return was a great rebound for Downtown Las Vegas. Those 8 News Now spoke with say this was the most normal things have felt for a long time.

It was great to see people enjoying themselves safely. There were food vendors, art exhibits and plenty of precautions to keep people safe.

“The temperature, the sanitizers the mask, the whole deal,” shared attendee Darren Huffman.

And with the fun came an opportunity to boost our local economy.

“This last year was pretty tragic, like it was very traumatic,” said artist and vendor Hazel Opazo. “Losing the income and the community spirit, and everything that comes from First Friday, it’s not just once a month, it’s every day.”

Organizers say they’re happy to see this slice of normal, and they hope it’s a sign of more to come.

“We’re taking precautions; we’re opening up safely and respectfully with the City of Las Vegas,” said organizer Corey Fagan, “and I think we can see more things opening up as we move forward.”

Those who made the trip down look forward to the new and improved opportunities our entire city will offer.

“I hope that people return and the vibe stays alive,” said Opazo.

Organizers say it was just like a big reunion for everyone who loves this event.

And like anything else in the age of COVID, there have been some changes to keep us safe, but it’s still going to be a great time in the Arts District.

One of those changes is limited capacity. This is a ticketed event, with only 250 people allowed in the festival area at a time. Masks and temperature checks are also required.

Fagan tells 8 News Now the event’s comeback is a big boost for Downtown.

“There’s a definite economic impact by having First Friday in the Arts District, not just for local businesses that are doing well,” Fagan explained. “People are supporting these local galleries and businesses, which we are so grateful for, but there are so many artists out tonight that depend on First Friday that haven’t been out in a year.”

Organizers also told us when the event started, it was the busiest they had ever been.

Those who attend future events must make sure to bring their tickets and masks. There is free parking at the Arts Square parking lot at Coolidge and Arts Way.

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