New Night draws crowd to Main Street
Warm temperatures and clear, sunny skies brought thousands of people downtown on Saturday for the annual A New Night Downtown festival.
Attendees listened to live music by local bands, chowed down on food from Newark restaurants and browsed roughly 60 vendor booths all while experiencing the freedom of walking down the middle of Main Street without any traffic.
As the sun started to set, Chris and Jim Hynson of Newark took a break from the festivities to sit on the curb and enjoy some ice cream. The couple said they used to attend the event when it was called Newark Nite, but had not been in the last few years.
“We came down because it was a nice day,” said Chris Hynson. “I like that the street is closed off. Normally you just drive up and down Main Street, so it’s nice to be able to walk and see the businesses at your leisure.”
They said they enjoyed perusing the art, crafts, and jewelry for sale on the Academy Lawn and hearing the Brandywine Fiddlers play.
“They were really good,” said Jim Hynson.
Megan McNerney, Downtown Newark Partnership administrator, said several thousand people came to Saturday’s event and estimated the crowd was bigger than last year’s New Night, which boasted much hotter temperatures and a scorching sun.
“There was a positive and relaxed vibe of people hanging out and experiencing Main Street on the one day all year where they get to walk down the middle of the street,” McNerney said.
“This is a good sense of what Newark has to offer,” city spokeswoman Kelly Bachman added.
J.D. Willetts, owner of Brewed Awakenings, sold cups of cold brew and nitro cold brew coffee – nitrogen-infused cold brew coffee – to festival-goers on Saturday, which marked his third New Night since taking over the shop in 2015.
As a business owner, he sees events like New Night as a chance to interact with the community.
“All day long I’m meeting people and talking to people, which is what I love to do. I’m getting to know my community,” he said. “It’s also a good opportunity to connect with the neighboring businesses. We don’t always go to each other’s stores, but at events like this we can walk down the street and see each other.”
Willetts said he met a few people at New Night who did not know Brewed Awakenings was on Main Street and others who had not yet tried the new menu items, like the nitro cold brew coffee, which Willetts has only been selling for the past year.
“It’s a good way to get out on the street and say, ‘Hey, we’re here,’” he said.
Down at the end of Main Street, Dan Lennon of Newark and his 6-year-old daughter, Riley, were enjoying the children’s area sponsored by the Newark Parks and Recreation Department.
Riley said she asked her parents to take her to New Night because she heard there was going to be multiple moon bounces.
“I liked the princess one the best,” she said.
Riley said her favorite part about New Night was shooting hoops for prizes, while her father enjoyed the live music the most.
Dan Lennon said he doesn’t typically bring his younger children downtown on the weekends because Main Street is often saturated with college students, but not at New Night.
“It’s great that they can have something like this,” he said.
Josh and Abel King try their hand at the shooting gallery during New Night.
Erin, Joe, Gwen and Avery Challburg enjoy a food break while exploring Main Street during New Night.
Thousands of people explore Main Street during the annual New Night festival on Saturday.
Taylor Draper plays basketball in the kids area of New Night.