Las Vegas Sun

October 18, 2017

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Guest Columnist:

Charles Ressler of First Friday: Downtown festival celebrates 12 years in October


Christopher DeVargas

Charles Ressler.

First Friday Alice in Wonderland Art

One of the many Las Vegas Steampunk Guild members costumed during First Friday activities as they present a Steampunk Wonderland on Friday, August 1, 2014. They are taking the beloved Lewis Carroll novel Alice in Wonderland and crafting from it a steampunk style art competition. Launch slideshow »

First Friday: March 7, 2014

Cruz Gibson of Las Vegas wears an illuminated mask during First Friday activities about the W. Colorado Ave. and S. Casino Center Blvd. area on Friday, March 07, 2014. Launch slideshow »

First Friday: December 2013

Launch slideshow »

Robin Leach has finished his annual summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, and many of our Strip personalities again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. As Robin enjoys the final birthday week of his working vacation with his family, we continue today with our popular guest columns. Here is Charles Ressler, director of communications, sponsorships and special programming, for First Friday Las Vegas.

It’s difficult to believe that this year, First Friday Las Vegas will celebrate its 12th anniversary in October. Each attendee of our event is responsible for keeping it alive, so the first order of business is to thank you for your support because without it this remarkable monthly happening would never have grown or become the true platform for Las Vegas’ arts, entrepreneurial and business populous that it has.

Most people have preconceived ideas of what it takes to create First Friday Las Vegas each month. Our tiny squad works zealously to produce an experience that is one-of-a-kind, exceptionally contemplative and illustrative of the astonishing talent and people in Las Vegas. This labor of love escalates as we continue to keep a keen eye on making each event more superior than the last.

Our level of attentiveness brings programming unlike any other monthly arts festival in the world — ballet flash mobs, puppet shows, cost-free painting and yoga classes, immersive-art installations of the arctic tundra, not to mention the colossal showcases of the best in local music, art and food.

Our team is engrossed in developing themes each month that are fun, educational and culturally enriching. A theme like “Hear, Here,” our most recent event, is more than meets the eye — or ear. We celebrate sound in every facet we could brainstorm, TED talks, deaf choirs, pop-up performances by musicians in the street, musical instrument-making stations, silent areas, creating visual representations of sound and — well, you get the idea.

As we continue to grow, we need the community to engage with our themes. Whether you wear a costume or reach out to us with an idea to create programming, every thought adds to the magic and whimsy for First Friday has become known.

Two years ago, First Friday themed an event “Avoidance.” It was all about environmental sustainability, and everywhere you looked was a message about empowering individuals to decrease their impact on the environment. The following month, we showed a ratio of 2-to-1 recycle-to-trash. This ratio has continued to increase.

First Friday has always had the goal of becoming a leave-no-trace event. Our great city’s future depends on looking to the future and ensuring that there is one for our children and theirs. Since then, we have become a Styrofoam-free event and begun a composting program. In the second half of the year, we are taking our goal to the next level. With great pleasure, we recently announced that we will be replacing our water barrels with concrete blocks. Though this creates more work for our team, it also will save Las Vegas 84,000 gallons of water per year.

We are doing our part and asking you to do yours, too. We are a strictly flier-free event. Each month we find ourselves picking up thousands of fliers, cars are plastered, and frankly this is irresponsible. Please refrain from flier-ing at First Friday. If you see someone doing so, feel empowered to ask them to stop.

There are 1 million and one ways to market your business and event to the 30,000 attendees at our festival, and we are always able and ready to assist in creating programming that will be 100 times more successful than fliers. Visit our brand-new website and behave responsibly. Become a sponsor. Southern Wine and Spirits has the right idea.

As a community, it is important to take this time to reflect on the importance of this festival. What does it add to Las Vegas each month? What would the city look like today if we did not have a monthly event that is so community focused and spirited?

How can we as a community work together to make sure that we celebrate another 12 years? We ask everyone to get involved and make Las Vegas the city you want to see.

Be sure to check out our other guest columnists today, restaurant designer Vincent Celano and Crystals chief Farid Matraki. On Monday, we’ll meet up with Cosmopolitan Entertainment Director Fedor Banuchi and Eric Brashear of Shoot.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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