By: Erin Callahan – Chief A&E Writer
Where can you find jugglers, a jazz band performing Lorde and a fried Reuben sandwich?
That was the scene at the Oregon District Friday night when local businesses and residents came together to celebrate Dayton’s biannual street party, Urban Nights, sponsored by the Downtown Dayton Partnership.
For 12 years, this event has served as an open house for the community to showcase downtown’s dining, nightlife, art, music, retail and urban living options. What started with only 15 participating businesses has now grown to include more than 100, according to the Downtown Dayton Partnership’s website. Businesses and restaurants offer specials, artists and galleries open their doors to the public, musicians and entertainers of all kinds perform and several downtown urban living options are open for tours.
The enthusiasm among attendants was overwhelming to say the least. Parking was scarce and sidewalks were crowded when more than 30,000 people ventured out for the festivities. Emily Broughton, special events manager at the Downtown Dayton Partnership, said Urban Nights offers a wide variety of activities for a wide variety of audiences.
“We see a lot of empty nesters, many young professionals, and everyone in between,” she said. “It has that artsy festival feel, and it offers something for everyone.”
The Oregon District was a clear favorite as entertainment and attendants packed the streets. Tumbleweed Connection featured a free photo booth, and one of the many performing bands recalled popular songs of the 1940s. Several UD students found this location especially interesting, not to mention conveniently located just a few minutes from campus.
“It was awesome to see all the talent and local businesses Dayton has,” junior communication major Julia Lowe said. “There were a lot of unique stores that were fun to explore.”
The Yellow Cab Food Truck Rally, found just around the corner from the Oregon District, was a popular attraction as well. Several local food trucks including Voodoo Taco, Hunger Paynes and The Shakers Juice Bar popped up shop and offered their classic and most delectable dishes.
Among the trucks full of grub, one stood out, offering clothes instead of cooking. Local Love …A Roaming Boutique offered several stylish options of women’s clothing, and a place to try to them on – right in their own truck. Many visitors were seen browsing and leaving with new attire.
While the Oregon District and the food truck rally drew a lot of attention, the excitement expanded far past 4th and 5th Streets. Other hot spots included the Splatter Zone, where attendants could use paintballs to decorate boards as part of a community beautification project, Art in Action which held mini “Art Off” Iron Chef-style art competitions and Urban Bikes at Urban Nights, which hosted a community bike ride through the city.
UD students who attended agreed it was worth the trip off campus.
“I thought it was a great way to bring a community together,” junior communication major Kayla Perillo said. “It was awesome to get out of the UD bubble to something that was not only so close, but so different from anything I’ve ever attended.” Emma Stiver, a senior visual arts major, also said she would definitely be back.
Since Urban Nights is a biannual event, it will take place again in the spring on May 8, 2015.
To view more photos from Urban Nights, visit our photo gallery at flyernews.com.