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April First Friday draws crowd

FIRST FRIDAY: A crowd gathers outside of Modoc's Market on First Friday.

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@wabashplaindealer.com

The smell of sizzling pepperonis wafted out of Pizza King’s open door while families took a stroll down the Canal Street Walk, passing tables of church groups, Cub Scouts and riding clubs selling goods for a cause at First Friday in downtown Wabash.

Wabash Marketplace Inc. hosted First Friday in downtown Wabash for the month of April, inviting the public to come enjoy what local businesses have to offer.

Mayor Scott Long could be seen walking downtown with his family on First Friday. He said the turnout was uncharacteristic for this time of year, noting it was still early for a crowd as large as the one he saw Friday evening. He said people were “eager to get out” and that the mild weather combined with The Underwater Bubble Show at the Honeywell Center was the likely culprit for the good turnout.

Outside of Modoc’s Market were members of the Moonshine Cowboys, a riding club focused on making a difference in the community by fundraising or collecting items for local groups in need. Club President Bruce Floyd said the Moonshine Cowboys started more than 7 years ago and like to use First Fridays as an opportunity to highlighted local causes.

“This year we’re focusing on 85 Hope and the Access Youth Center, so we’re taking donations, like school supplies and personal hygiene products, to lend a hand,” he said.

Down the street was a table filled with homemade chocolate Easter eggs for $1.50 each from the Cathedral Praise Church of God. Church clerk Rebel Decker said she and church volunteers were selling the eggs to raise money for women’s ministries and to fund the “finishing touches” on the church’s recent renovation.

Meanwhile, representatives from Bickford Assisted Living community set up shop to spread the word about their organization. Director Michelle Hutchinson said Bickford of Wabash was a lesser known senior living center off Division Road, and they thought they’d use First Friday as an opportunity to make their presence known.

Like the church and riding club, Cub Scout Pack 3905 was hoping to use the crowd to drum up sales to support their programs. The eight-member pack was selling different varieties of popcorn at First Friday, money that Cub Master Tammy Slone said goes to support rewards for the cubs and camping trips too.

The next First Friday in Wabash will be May 3. Marketplace Project Coordinator Andrea Zwiebel said the May First Friday will feature a flyover and landing by Parkview Samaritan Helicopter, the opening of Living Well Downtown, and a re-launch of the "Do It Downtown" campaign.