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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Mar. 9, 2016 2 years ago

Downtown merchants plan first Ocoee Family Fest

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The event, which takes place on St. Patrick’s Day, will feature carnival-style games, bounce houses and entertainment.
by: Jennifer Nesslar Reporter

OCOEE The city of Ocoee is not the only one with plans to revitalize the city’s downtown area. 

The Ocoee Downtown Merchants at McKey Street have been discussing ideas for how to bring life and business to the street and are ready to make their plans a reality. 

They are kicking off a monthly Ocoee Family Fest and hired resident Mindy Hungerford’s company, Panache Events, to make it happen. Two blocks of McKey Street — from the railroad tracks to Bluford Avenue — will come to life for the event. 

For merchants on McKey Street, it is a challenge to bring recognition to their businesses and even to the street itself. The merchants hope the event will help. 

“We want to bring attention to the fact that we’re here and build up our customer database,” said Connie Dean, owner of Ocoee Book Rack.

The first event kicks off from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 17, and is sponsored by the Florida Film Academy. Future events will take place one Thursday of each month. Furthermore, the event time was planned to accommodate students. 

“People could pick up their children from school, do homework and come straight to the festival, which starts at 4 o’clock, and still have their kids bathed and in bed on time,” Hungerford said. 

Wristbands for unlimited time in the bounce houses will be available for $5, and if event-goers would like food, they can purchase it at a vendor of their choice, such as the Elemental Chef and Ocoee Taco Company. All other activities, such as games for children, are free.

Three princesses will be walking around in character and interacting with the kids there. Their time is donated by Blonde Mafia Productions, a company that specializes in sending characters to events. 

“A family event like this allows kids to be kids again,” said Stefanie Esquijarosa, an owner of the Florida Film Academy. “To be in a safe environment, to do sidewalk chalk, to safely bounce in a bounce house — do all those things that kids should be doing at their age — to socialize. We get all caught up in technology and being on our iPhones all the time, but living and being a part of that is what’s important at its core.”

For adult attendees, stores along McKey Street will offer free wine tastings. An emblem will be painted on the windows of participating stores, and those of age can enter to enjoy. 

Frozen Pixels Photography also will be on site taking family photos, and the Florida Film Academy will have a pop-up art display. 

Robin Stewart, owner of Antiques and Uniques, hopes the event will promote business and be a great experience for families in the community. 

“My children live here, my grandchildren live here,” she said. “It’s just an event that they can come out and have good family time.”

 

Contact Jennifer Nesslar at [email protected]

 

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