First Thursday's Culture Boost

Posted by JMcVerry on May 4, 2010 

Good news. You've got something to do this Thursday.

State College’s May installment of First Thursday starts the summer off with a bang. For the first time in its three-year history, the event will dust off the Allen Street stage for an outdoor concert. The inaugural headliner is indie rock-lite heroes Matt Pond PA. The Philadelphia band will be in town adding on to its long list of State College performances.

Regardless if you’re a Pond fan or not, you should spend some time roaming the Happy Valley streets this Thursday. There will be horse-drawn carriages, half off pitas at Pita Pit (order online and avoid the line), and several other events. These community happenings are the perfect culture boost. The kind of boost many towns need, even State College. Up until recently, First Thursdays have been a jumble of tiny events that most people knew very little about. The concert, among the other new features, will hopefully get people off their sofas and computer chairs, and out enjoying the niceties of our quality downtown.

It’s something we shouldn’t take for granted. Hundreds of Pennsylvania towns are ailing, empty, and/or falling a part. Sadly, the things that made these towns unique are disappearing. You can blame Wal Mart, you can blame the Internet, you can blame laziness, but it really comes down to not appreciating what makes your hometown special.

It’s the difference between knowing where your money is going and sending it out of town to some headquarters in Arkansas—or China! It’s the difference between telling your family and friends, “I know this great place downtown for dinner” and “ehhhh we can go to Olive Garden?” when they visit. We should want our town to be unique and events like First Thursday help us appreciate that and hopefully inspire us to make our way downtown more often. Hopefully it succeeds and grows even bigger for many more to enjoy.

[WARNING: Food Tangent]

This goes for everywhere—and I’ve spouted this out many times before. We need to make our way passed the fast food joints located conveniently off the highway. And instead trek a few miles into a our amazing small towns to enjoy the local fair. Who cares if it’s a run down pizza place or a diner. Why not enjoy something different, and also support privately own businesses. It’s what makes these towns unique. The idea that every town is exactly the same really isn’t that far off.

So, the next time you’re waiting at a chain restaurant with 50 other miserable shlups impatiently watching the buzzer in your hand, try to think of a restaurant off the beaten path. One that you heard someone mention once. We start frequenting these places, and more will pop up. More diverse, quality places, instead of the everyday Chilis, TGIFridays, etc. I can eat that food anywhere.

We’ll actually have even more to brag about.

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