By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Bowling Green’s first Firefly Night led hundreds of people downtown last week. Now the event will give those drawn downtown something to drink.
City Council voted Monday evening to grant an appeal for a liquor permit for future Firefly Night events.
According to Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett, the state requires city councils to approve selling of alcohol on public property. So the request was initially rejected until council could act. Now it will be up to the state to act on the liquor permit request.
Council’s approval was met with applause from those in council chambers Monday evening.
Prior to the vote, a pitch for the liquor permit was made by the four women downtown business owners who have organized the Firefly Nights – Stacie Banfield owner of Mode Elle, Kati Thompson of Eden Fashion Boutique, Gayle Walterbach of Coyote Beads, and Laura Wicks of Grounds for Thought.
The organizers created a non-profit group for the purpose of offering food, fun and entertainment in the downtown every third Friday during the summer months of May through August. The first Firefly Night, which was held last Friday, attracted more than 200 participants in a 5K run.
The events are designed as Main Street festivals, with the street shut down from Court to Washington streets, with traffic being able to cross Main on Wooster Street. The events offer kids activities, shopping, live music at both ends of the festival, and food trucks in the future, Thompson said.
“We’re a group of passionate small business owners,” Thompson said. “We believe a strong downtown can breathe life into a community.”
Thirty merchants in the downtown area have signed up to help sponsor the Firefly Nights, she said.
“We want to see our businesses grow,” plus attract new ones, Thompson told council members.
But without a liquor permit during the monthly events, people will have to remain inside businesses if they want to consume alcohol. The permit would allow people to purchase alcoholic beverages and enjoy the entertainment out in the streets, she said.
The plan is for beer and wine to be sold at all of the festivals.
Organizers have talked with police and fire officials, who supported the permit request.
“We really believe we have something special in downtown BG,” Thompson said, noting that the hundreds of people who attended the “Chocolate Crawl” in the downtown earlier this year expressed interest in the variety of shops in the city.
“We have to expose them to all we have to offer,” Thompson said.
Council President Mike Aspacher complimented the Firefly Nights organizers for their hard work.
“Hopefully this will become a reoccurring event” in future years, he said.
Council member Sandy Rowland praised the women for the “courage to take on something this big.”
After the vote, Mayor Dick Edwards thanked council for acting quickly on the liquor request appeal. He noted the success of the first Firefly Night last week.
“Everyone had a smile – despite the weather,” Edwards said.