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December 18, 2014

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Joe Downtown: First Friday, by the numbers

Image

Leila Navidi

Vendors are set up in the Arts Factory parking lot during First Friday in Las Vegas on Friday, October 5, 2012. First Friday celebrated it’s tenth anniversary this year.

First Friday 10th Anniversary

Devontah Pope of Las Vegas, models accessories from Alex's Unique Boutique during First Friday in Las Vegas on Friday, October 5, 2012. First Friday celebrated it's tenth anniversary this year. Launch slideshow »

I remember bits and pieces of the first First Friday in downtown.

The October 2002 night was chilly. Someone set up a small table with wine, crackers and cheese in the Arts Factory. Maybe 200 people were there.

Unlike today, no food carts or vendors were on the street. Instead, footprints were painted on the sidewalk to direct people between the two First Friday locales, the Arts Factory and the Funkhouse.

Four months later, local poet Gregory Crosby set up one of the first outdoor attractions. At a card table in front of the Funkhouse, he hammered out poems on the fly with a manual typewriter for a small donation. I still have mine. Framed.

Today, First Friday is gargantuan by comparison. Huge crowds are expected for tonight's First Friday, 5 p.m.-11 p.m. in the downtown Arts District.

An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people showed up for April's event. Days later, organizers of the event were positively giddy about the turnout in their planning “war room” meeting.

The event really took off after being taken over by First Friday Las Vegas LLC in 2011, when roughly 30 vendors plied their art and food on the street.

One of First Friday’s organizers/warriors, Charles Ressler, keeps track of a dizzying number of people, exhibitors, phone numbers and details.

From his April list, here’s a bit of First Friday by the numbers:

    • 120

      Number of artists who showcased their work at the event.

    • 30

      Food vendors who serve the masses.

    • 200

      Hot dogs sold by vendor Hot Diggity Dog.

    • 250

      Orders of french fries sold by Hot Diggity Dog.

    • 75

      Pounds of chili at Hot Diggity Dog.

    • 26

      Port-A-Potties for the masses after all that eating.

    • 50

      Spider boxes, which are junction boxes that feed power created by …

    • 12

      Generators through some ...

    • 2

      Miles of electrical cord.

    • 200

      Floodlights

    • 60

      Tents

    • 20-plus

      Volunteers needed to make it work.

    Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown, he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.

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