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Landon Christian, 2, plucks a plastic dinosaur from the Dino Dig sandbox provided by the Imaginarium Children's Museum for May's First Weekends event in downtown Plattsburgh. Along with the sandbox, the museum brought a rainbow-colored parachute that parents and visitors lifted into the air as children dashed underneath. (Ben Rowe/P-R Photo)

Rain doesn't dampen First Weekend spirits

By: By DANIELLE BECKFORD, Contributing Writer

---- — PLATTSBURGH — A little rain never hurt anyone, and it didn’t wash away community spirit at May’s First Weekends event.

City Hall Place in downtown Plattsburgh was banned to traffic for last Saturday’s festivities, making a playground for children as they enjoyed the child-friendly live music and a clown on stilts who made balloon animals.

“First Weekends is definitely picking up,” said Kelly Frederick, manager of the Imaginarium Children’s Museum, which provided some activities. 

“It’s great not only for local businesses but for the culture because it shows that a lot goes on here — more than what people thought.”

First Weekends Inc., the Plattsburgh Downtown Association and Plattsburgh Renewal Project collaborated on the effort, which brought activities to the Center City area on Friday night and Saturday. 

“We’ve had a variety of performers,” Downtown Association President Colin Read said. “There are normally four to five bands that perform.”

GIVING BACK

There was plenty to do, with several nonprofits and businesses setting up stations along the street, including the Advocacy and Resource Center with Sink or Float, the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute running the balloon stand, the Children’s Museum monitoring the arts-and-crafts table and Grow Buddies Organic Gardening Supplies with its gardening station.

Taking part, ARC staff member Michael Clausen said, gives the agency the opportunity to “get the word out about our services and give back to the community.”

At the Imaginarium’s arts-and-craft station, children played in a sandbox with toy dinosaurs. Frederick said it was a promotional display of the museum’s “Dinosaur Dig” exhibit.

“(First Weekends) is good for my 2-year-old because it’s not often that we go out during my free time,” local resident Theresa Christian said.

‘DIE-HARD PLATTSBURGHIANS’

As it began to rain cats and dogs, tents were built up to cover each station. 

While some participants sought shelter under them, others ran into DeLish and other nearby restaurants and shops. 

The wind was so gusty that volunteers had to hold on to the tent poles at each corner. 

“We’re die-hard Plattsburghians!” called out Jo Vaccato, an Imaginarium volunteer.

Some children piled into a police truck parked outside Irises Cafe and Wine Bar, pretending to drive it until they were struck with a sudden urge to run in the rain.

BLOCK PARTY

Hopes were high that the sun would return as attendees waited and a man sat under the awning of an apartment doorway, playing his guitar and singing through the interlude.

As the rain let up some, children and volunteers played with a giant parachute — the goal was for the kids to run from underneath before it touched them.

And while the weather ended up canceling some events later in the day, there was satisfaction over earlier successes.  

“It’s a block party to get more people to come downtown.” Read said.

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