Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Entertainment

April 7, 2012

Runners, ‘ambassadors’ on hand for Goshen’s First Fridays

GOSHEN — The April First Fridays celebration included hundreds of runners and walkers and a few dancers, who enjoyed a pleasant spring afternoon and evening during a “green”-themed event.

Even though it was spring break for students in Goshen schools, there was a good turnout of both adults and young people, who were guided for the first time by about 50 volunteer “ambassadors” who were recruited by the Downtown Goshen Inc. organization to help the event go smoothly.

Police Chief Wade Branson, who was leading his officers who were on foot downtown Friday, said young people were well behaved and the event was going well.

“I was here last month and there are more adults here than last month,” Chief Branson said Friday.

“The kids are well behaved. It’s going very well,” he said.

Goshen College professor Dave Ostergren, who was serving as one of the First Fridays ambassadors, said he wanted to be part of the answer to the crowding and youth problems.

“I went to the last (City Council) meeting and I spoke,” Ostergren said. “I was concerned about the direction things were going. There’s got to be an answer.”

Ostergren pointed out that 15 to 20 GC students and staff were part of the ambassador group. He explained that the volunteers present “an extra set of eyes”  as they patrol and visit businesses that are open on Friday night. Ostergren went on to predict that the City Council may not need to adopt two new ordinances that were written to deal with problems of blocked sidewalks in the downtown, as well as a new curfew for young teenagers on First Fridays.

Bill Mattern, who was serving food under a large tent at Main and Washington streets, said there was a nice crowd out Friday.

“They really flock in after the run,” he said of the crowd that enjoyed the walking and running events Friday night.

He said he served 100 steak sandwiches and offered a new meat Friday, a boneless barbecued pork chop on a stick.

Mattern added that he has not had any problems with young people in recent months. In fact, he has tried to attract them into his deli by offering a 10 percent discount on food to young people. He said he has offered the discount the past three months.

Favian Saucedo, a Goshen High School sophomore, was walking along Main Street with about four of his friends Friday night. He said he had not been to First Fridays for about three months, as he was busy with basketball.

Saucedo said he was enjoying walking around and talking to friends.

“I’m just walking around,” he said, adding that his parents expected him to be home at a reasonable time.

Sergio Gonzalez, a GHS freshman, said he was enjoying himeself Friday.

“It’s pretty fun, just walking around talking to friends, to girls,” Gonzalez said, in the 100 block of South Main Street.

His friend, Antonio Mayorga, added that he was enjoying seeing all the people, running into friends, but also making new friends at the event.

Patty French, who volunteered as an ambassador for First Friday, said she did so because “I just love First Fridays. And I want it to be a multi-generational event.”

“It seems to be going real well,” said City Councilman Jeremy Stutsman. “The question is what is going to happen when it gets dark.”

Stutsman said he thought the recruiting of ambassadors was a great solution to the problem of guiding young people at the event. He went on to say the City Council will be discussing the proposed city ordinances that were written to try to deal with the problems, when it meets in two weeks.

 

 

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Last weekend (July 12) the Goshen Parks Department held its Kid’s Try-athlon to promote childhood fitness and this week (July 18) the new bicycle trail is open to the fairgrounds in Goshen, offering residents a healthy way to get to the annual agriculture exposition. Have you joined the local fitness movement?

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