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First Friday draws crowd downtown

First Friday is an event designed to attract visitors to the downtown area in Lakeland, held monthly. Photo by Hunter Moa

“My favorite thing about First Friday is the live bands that perform,” Lakeland High School freshman, Austin Isbell said of the city of Lakeland’s First Friday event.

First Friday is an event held in downtown Lakeland that started approximately seven years ago. It is sponsored by Downtown Lakeland Partnerships and is a free event held in Munn Park and around downtown on the first Friday of every month.

Each event has its own theme. February’s theme was “Downtown loves the Arts” which allowed visitors to enjoy the visual and performing arts, with approximately 50 artists showing their work. March’s theme was “Skyward Festival,” and DLP teamed up with Sun n’ Fun to bring the fantasy of aviation to downtown Lakeland.

It featured the chance for guests to create paper airplanes and view helicopter pyrotechnics, hot air balloons, flyovers and more.

First Friday runs from 6 pm to 9 pm.

First Friday featured aviation vehicles, live entertainment, a car show and food and music vendors.

Officials from Lakeland Linder Regional Airport were in attendance as well.

“ We’re here to promote aviation and to tell about our new airline that has started flying, as well as promoting the general aviation side as well,” a representative said.

Attendance for the events range from 2,000 to 3,000 on average. Annette Riddle is a four-year attendee.

“I love the sense of the community,” Riddle’s younger sister, Jennifer, said. “My favorite thing at First Friday is the weird music.”

While Isbell attends to meet up with friends and see the different displays and vendors, he added that he wished, “First Friday had a roller coaster.”

All in all, Isbell said he enjoys First Fridays. “It’s so fun,” he said.