Posted on November 20,2018
In Logan and Declan's #MyDowntownRochMN they shared how much they enjoy all the family friendly events that Downtown Rochester has to offer. So we caught up with one of our very own, Meghann Southwick, the brains behind some of your favorite Downtown events such as Here Comes Santa Claus, Fall Fest, Dogs Downtown, and the award winning event, Thursdays on First & 3rd.
Samantha: Hi Meghann, thanks for meeting with me today, would you mind telling me a little bit more about your role with the Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA)?
Meghann: My role at the RDA is Community & Events Manager. My primary responsibility is to manage our core event portfolio, including such events as Thursdays on First & 3rd and SocialICE, from start to finish. It's definitely a lengthy and sometimes challenging process to plan events, but I welcome that and I'm lucky to work with a team that believes in taking risks and evolving. Improvement and innovation can’t happen without running into obstacles and learning to adapt. I also love talking wild ideas and thinking about the bigger picture. It’s tough to turn my brain off to the opportunities that exist in the coming years! I hope to create spaces and experiences where people can feel connected and invested in the place they call home. If I can catch someone at an event in a completely uninhibited place of enjoyment, I feel like I’m doing my job. Plus, I love working with our awesome stakeholders, partners, and community members; there’s prosperity when collaboration happens, and planning events allows me to work with awesomely creative and innovative individuals and businesses on a daily basis.
Samantha: That’s great, it sounds like you really enjoy your job. When I interviewed Logan and Declan, they mentioned how much they enjoy attending events Downtown. Can you tell me how many events are offered by the RDA throughout the year and how many of those are family friendly?
Meghann: We have nine events (over 30 days of programming) throughout the year, and truthfully, all events can be family friendly in one way or another! Movies in the Park, Dogs Downtown, Fall Fest, and Here Comes Santa Claus are specifically created with families in mind. But, pretend it's Saturday in February. You have cabin fever. Have you ever considered rounding up your crew and making your way to the Peace Plaza to take in the ice bars during the day? Or, let your kids dance the night away in front of the stage at Thursdays on First & 3rd. Downtown is full of places and spaces for families to enjoy.
Samantha: So many great events, but do you have a favorite?
Meghann: Even before I began working at the RDA, Declan and I spent our Thursdays at Thursdays on First & 3rd. Not conventionally thought of as a family event, Thursdays on First & 3rd has always been near and dear to us! To this day, he still calls it "the place where I can dance in the street". The event connects kids to culture, arts, a diverse selection of food, and provides them with a sense of community, I think. The big bowl of ice cream doesn't hurt either. In addition, Movies in the Park has really become a favorite of mine. New family-friendly activities were launched this year, as well as film-inspired menus from several Downtown bars and restaurants. Families were truly able to make a night of it, and I think they enjoyed it! Fall Fest is a great one. Can I just love them all?
Samantha: It really is hard to pick a favorite! Logan and Declan also mention that they love grabbing a bite to eat and a drink Downtown - especially pizza and a Shirley Temple. What other things do the three of you enjoy doing Downtown?
Meghann: So many things! Grabbing a bite is definitely a favorite. We love the Rochester Downtown Farmers Market - it's a Saturday staple in the summer followed by a walk along the river. Usually, we'll stop at Cafe Steam beforehand and walk to the market passing by the large mural on 4th Street. We're frequent People's Food Co-op shoppers, and in the winter, we've loved exploring the skyways and ultimately ending at the Rochester Public Library. I drag them to our events, of course!
Personally, Downtown feels like home to me. Logan and I work Downtown and thrive on the energy and bustle. Sometimes I feel there's a notion that a city/urban environment isn't always kid-friendly, but I disagree. It's a huge playground, and it's really important to us that Declan grows up feeling connected and confident in his city.
Samantha: That's a great way to look at it and thank you so much for sharing about your job, family, and the great events that happen throughout the year.
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Disclaimer: the views, comments, and opinions located within this blog are those of the community individual, not those of the Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA).