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Cuyahoga Falls -- Imagine a normally quiet city block alive with activity.
That is what longtime friends and Falls natives Samantha Coldwell and Getta Kutuchief had in mind when they successfully secured a grant to make a section of the city's pedestrian mall a Better Block.
Coldwell, Kutuchief and their team of volunteers are inviting the public to meet downtown on Front Street between Portage Trail and Stow Avenue and see the potential there during Falls Better Block, Aug. 26 and 27.
Friends since ninth grade at Falls High, Coldwell and Kutuchief have fond memories of growing up in the Falls.
"It's always been home to me," said Coldwell. "I have a huge extended family; lots of aunts, uncles and cousins and the majority of them live here in the Falls. I grew up riding my bike along the riverfront, going to parks, neighborhoods, so for me it's always been home."
Kutuchief said she wasn't born in the Falls, but she attended high school here and has lived here for the past 20 years. "Even though I work in Akron, this is my home," she said. "I'm very invested in this area."
Coldwell said she's seen Cuyahoga Falls change and grow in the past 34 years. "It's always getting better," she said. "It's good and I think it's getting great. We see the potential of it being more amazing than it already is."
That, she said, is the inspiration behind Falls Better Block.
The Better Block concept was developed by Jason Roberts of Dallas, Texas, Coldwell said. "The idea is to take typically a block that has a lot of potential and show the community and the city what it could look like on a really great weekend."
Things that have been done at previous Better Block events around the country include adding bike lanes and having pop-up businesses in empty storefronts.
Falls Better Block will include a dog park, yoga classes on the riverfront, a beer garden, a beach bar, bike lanes, pop-up theater and a night market.
Cuyahoga Falls Chamber of Commerce CEO Laura Petrella said she is looking forward to the new event.
"So much good has come out of this two-day event just to really shine a brighter spotlight, even more bright than it is on Cuyahoga Falls," said Petrella.
Falls Better Block will kick off at 5 p.m. Aug. 26 with the night market along with six musical artists and a number of food and beverage vendors. Falls Better Block T-shirts and screen-printed posters will be sold. Craft beer will be available at the beer garden as well as a chance to relax with new and old friends within one of many outdoor seating areas. Day One runs until 11 p.m.
Day Two begins at 10 a.m. and lasts until 3 p.m. Aug. 27. The agenda includes a morning yoga class and vendors offering food and beverages as well as arts and crafts and other items.
On each day, attendees will be able to listen to live music, take part in an exercise boot camp and tour the Cuyahoga River in a kayak. Both days will also see pop-up businesses and wiki stores, a dog park and children's play areas.
The Falls Better Block event will occur along the Front Street Riverfront Pedestrian Walkway, between Portage Trail and Stow Avenue. Free parking°is available in city-owned parking decks and parking lots. The Green parking deck at the corner of Second Street and Stow Avenue is recommended for the easiest access to Falls Better Block festivities.°
For more information, visit fallsbetterblock.com or find them on Facebook and Twitter.