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“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Some folks may not know or remember that Downtown Racine’s Party on the Pavement street festival is a classic example of that adage. Nearly 20 years ago, downtown area streets were torn up for months by an extensive utilities and street reconstruction project. Traffic and parking were a mess. People avoided the area like the plague. Businesses suffered.

When the road crews finally completed the project in early fall, Downtown Racine businesses celebrated with an all-day “Party on the Pavement,” including live music, food and dancing right on the streets. Everyone had so much fun; they held it again the following year.

Party on the Pavement
Party on the Pavement

POTP soon grew into a much-anticipated annual street festival. For some merchants, it became one of the best sales days of the year. It continued uninterrupted for more than a decade until being put on hiatus by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Downtown Racine’s “big party” resumed last Saturday under a picture-perfect blue sky. It was EXACTLY the mental boost that residents needed. To me, it spoke to our community’s amazing diversity.

Within a few blocks on Sixth Street, there was a drag show, a Tejano band, classic rock, rhythm-and-blues, rap, dancers and BMX cyclists. You could get a library card, learn about mental health services, throw a whipped cream pie at a cheerleader, get a COVID-19 vaccine or a massage.

As you wandered down Main Street, you could munch on a bratwurst, a tamale, cheese curds or a taco, buy popcorn from the Cub Scouts/Boy Scouts, pick up a used book, shop for jewelry or enter a raffle. Once you’d done all that, you could grab a cold beer, pull up a seat and listen to some blues or jazz.

POTP ’21 also spoke to Racine’s resilience. Our community has been through wars, fires, internal unrest, economic change and a global pandemic but has always persevered. Let’s not forget that, shall we? Life will ALWAYS give us lemons in one form or another. It’s up to us to respond. 

When life gave Racine lemons in the form of street reconstruction, Racinians turned it into a party! And, we did it again last Saturday.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...