Local officials are eagerly anticipating the return of First Fridays next month.

First Friday’s Arts Walk will be held from 5-9 p.m. May 7 in downtown Kokomo. The event will showcase new pieces along the Kokomo Sculpture Walk, downtown’s art-filled alleys, wares from local vendors and a reception at 306 Riverfront District.

Susan Alexander, manager of the Downtown Initiatives with the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance, said the event is a perfect segue back into First Fridays. Because the event is mostly outdoors, it allows for safe gathering while bringing the community together amid the pandemic.

“I’m really excited to once again offer the opportunity for us to gather in the heart of the community in a safe, socially distanced way,” she said. “It’s so important for the community to gather around and commune together.”

There will be nine sculptures replacing those currently along the sculpture walk. While the names of the artists have not been released, Alexander said art is coming from Vermont, California and all over the Midwest.

Artists have been invited to attend the reception at 306 Riverfront District, Alexander said. Attendees are encouraged to wear masks and socialize safely at a distance.

“I truly believe that art is going to help us maneuver these times and help us through,” she said. “There’s beauty that art brings that you can’t put a price on. It helps us see things differently.”

The last First Friday event was held in November 2020 with Main Street Mystery. The planned December event, Hometown Holiday, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Before that, First Friday events were rescheduled or retooled to keep the community safe.

Alexander said the Alliance appreciates their relationship to the city of Kokomo to hold these events safely, and particularly the support of Mayor Tyler Moore.

“With all the community has had to sacrifice this past year, it’s exciting and encouraging to know that the Downtown Association is bringing back our First Friday events again in 2021,” Moore said in an email. “These offerings are a perfect ‘reward’ of sorts to the citizens for their diligence during the pandemic to keep our community as safe, secure and healthy as they have. I’m looking forward to having everyone back together downtown each month!”

While upcoming First Friday themes are still in the works, the annual First Friday Strawberry Festival has been confirmed for June 4, Alexander said.

“We’re going to have the festival at the beginning of summer like always,” she said. “We’re taking a couple of steps back to normalcy. We know a lot of folks are anticipating that.”

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