Sunday, June 17, 2007

Summertime Festival on the Green

The Summertime Festival on the Green opened last night with a pops concert from our own Danbury Symphony Orchestra, thanks in large part to the generosity of long-time Danbury Music Centre supporters Fred and Joan Weisman, who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary with many of their friends.

It's hard to imagine summer in Danbury without the Green now, but its existence came about almost by accident. I've tried to find articles from the News-Times on the subject, but they are safely hidden away in the archives, or more likely were never preserved in digital form to begin with, so I'm relying on my memory here. If any of you readers have better recall than I do—and I'm sure you do—please speak up.

As I remember it, this block was cleared many years ago with the intention of selling it to developers, but it sat unused, perhaps as long as the current site of the Terrance P. McNally Parking Garage languished in concrete and rebar disrepair. At the same time, the market for office space in downtown Danbury crashed. Then some enterprising and visionary souls conceived of and organized the summer concert series and September's Taste of Danbury on this empty and unused plot of land.

When the real estate market picked up again, and the property was to be sold for development, a loud protest rose up from the citizens of Danbury—so loud that even City Hall heard and obeyed. The space remained open, and has been improved and maintained to the beauty that you see here today, thanks to the efforts of CityCenter Danbury and the Danbury Downtown Council. The Green is framed on three sides by the aforesaid parking garage—which is really quite attractive as parking garages go—and brick buildings both old and new. Dining opportunities in the immediate vicinity include Two Steps Downtown Grille, Ciao's, and the newly opened Bella Luna.

The Summertime Festival schedule and more photos are here at the new CityCenter website. See you next Thursday for Dr. Ya Ya's Gumbo band, Friday for The Glamour Girls, or Saturday for Seeking Homer? (Speaking of gumbo, try the chicken and sausage gumbo at Two Steps Downtown Grille before the concert!)

By the way, the original Danbury Green was the median strip of Main Street that we know today as Elmwood Park. I'll have some photos of it in its full summertime blooming glory in the next week or two.

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