Whether watching the stars, tasting the spirits or enjoying live music and dancing, those who came to downtown and Center Wheeling for the First Fridays celebration found the city flush with activities.
"I really think First Fridays is brilliant. Look at how hot it is, and there are still people out here," said Robert Strong, owner of Smart Centre Market. "It really makes for a great event."
The Smart Centre is an interactive science product store featuring a collection of dinosaur fossil replicas, rocks and science toys, as well as ice cream.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Robert Strong, owner of Smart Centre Market in Center Wheeling, demonstrates how to use a gyro ring toy at his shop during the city’s First Fridays celebration.
"We are either a science store that sells ice cream, or the most unique ice cream shop you'll find," Strong said.
The store also hosted members of the Cabin Fever String Band, whose members played in front of a fossil replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Strong also holds regular star watches during First Fridays, as this week he and some others peered into the sky to see Mercury, Mars and Saturn.
"This is only one night a month - it gives people something to do," he said. "As a business person, you ask your customers what they want. People want to be able to go out and do something with their kids."
The next regularly scheduled First Fridays event is set for Aug. 3.
Strong said the First Fridays model gave him the idea to start his own "Fifth Fridays" science lecture series. In months that feature five Fridays, the center provides a free talk on a unique topic at 6 p.m.
Over at Casa di Vino, Glen Dale residents Charlie and Connie Hawkins said they try to make it up every month for the store's wine tasting event on First Fridays.
"There is just a great atmosphere here," said Charlie Hawkins. "Look at how much fun everyone is having. This is a great place to spend a Friday night."
"We see some people we know, and then get to meet some new people," added Connie Hawkins.
Mount Olivet resident Jackie Yuncke said the wine tasting is a good way for people to familiarize themselves with a product they may not otherwise enjoy.
"This is a really neat place to come on a Friday night," she added.
Also enjoying the festive atmosphere were Wheeling residents Charlie and Patty McFadden, who were taking a break near Centre Cup Coffee.
"I really like First Fridays," said Patty McFadden. "It is a very good idea for the city."
Also continuing in Center Wheeling Friday was the Grecian Festival on Chapline Street, which runs again from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.