Music concert brings shoppers to Main Street- Express-Times

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Music concert brings shoppers to Main Street- Express-Times

Post#1 » Mon Jul 04, 2005 4:50 pm

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Music concert brings shoppers to Main Street
Goal of "Walk 'n' Rock" is to get people out of their cars and into Bethlehem's stores.
Sunday, July 03, 2005
By EDWARD SIEGER
The Express-Times

BETHLEHEM -- Shoppers can find about 200 merchants within a five-block radius of the city's Main Street district, said Steve Schmitt.

Schmitt, director of the Coalition for Appropriate Transportation, likened the downtown to a "huge outdoor mall."

All people have to do is get out of their cars and walk, he said.

Schmitt and the Best of the Lehigh Valley arts organization staged Saturday's Walk 'n' Rock block party in hopes people rediscover downtown.

BeLeVe highlighted the area's music scene, organizing 14 bands on two stages over about seven hours. CAT promoted biking, walking and public transit, offering free parking, day bus passes or a place to park your bike.

It's important city residents support urban cores that are easily accessible by foot or bike, Schmitt said. Why drive 3 miles to the suburbs for a cup of coffee when you can walk four blocks, he said.

"The apple is only as healthy as the core," Schmitt said.

Schmitt helped organize a similar block party 10 years ago after the block watch -- which organized two years previous -- helped clean-up the downtown. With BeLeVe's help organizing music, Schmitt said he'd like to make the block party an annual event.

"I like it and most of the merchants like it," he said.

Crowds gathered in the shade of the Sun Inn courtyard to hear some live music. Patrons lounged outside Rippers Pub while 20-somethings and families found a spot on Guetter Street to tap their feet to some rock 'n' roll.

Shoppers on Main Street bustled past patrons sitting outside restaurants and coffee shops all along the street.

Arlene Brockel owns and operates the Chocolate Lab on West Broad Street.

Weather tends to dictate customer turnout, Brockel said. Hot, humid weather keeps chocolate seekers at bay, she said.

The mercury was climbing Saturday, but customers weren't deterred. Along with regular customers, Brockel reported seeing many first-timers who gobbled up frozen bananas and gulped caramel and chocolate lattes.

Brockel decided to take advantage of the block watch and schedule a pottery show.

"With the crowd and the music, we thought it would be a good turnout and it is," she said.

Kelly McNabb and her English bulldog, Truman, took a break from their mid-afternoon walk to listen to a band in the Sun Inn courtyard.

Living on Main Street, McNabb witnesses first-hand the pedestrian traffic through town and Main Street seemed a bit busier Saturday. The lure of live music prompted McNabb to take a break from Live 8 coverage and stroll downtown.

"People will come back," she said. "When people from out of town discover Bethlehem, they come back. They love it."

( Reporter Edward Sieger can be reached at 610-258-7171 or by e-mail at esieger@express-times.com.

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