June 5, 2009

Downtown was a giant party on First Friday

When we say everybody was dancing, and smiling, on Friday night -- take our word for it. The joint was jumping.

Downtown was one giant party, as good weather coincided -- finally! -- with First Friday's activities, and there was music, dancing, art, shopping, eating and a generally great time. There were crowds of people happily navigating the construction zone on Sixth Street and enjoying the party atmosphere on Main emanating from Monument Square.

We ran into Mayor John Dickert and his family, off to get the kids' faces painted after dinner; State Sen. John Lehman, Alderman Greg Helding, former City Administrator Ben Hughes, DRC director Devin Sutherland, RCCVB director Dave Blank and lots of other folks.

The Roy Edwards Band kept Monument Square lively

Ah, to be a kid, needing only cotton candy for a good time

Horse and buggy rides were an attraction along the Lakefront

Bob Wolff's 1912 Harley joined other vintage cycles on display

More than a dozen old motorcycles were displayed outside the Racine Heritage Museum, and the star (after my Vespa, of course) was this 1912 Harley. It was bought new by Vince Smerchek, who took delivery on July 12, 1912. Cost: $210, plus $10 for the headlight. Its 500 cc engine produces 3 HP, and it was once driven from Racine to Oklahoma and back. In 1957, Vince gave it to his great-nephew, Bob Wolff, then 16, who has owned it ever since. It runs, but not on the highway: it lacks lights and, more importantly, the three batteries necessary for ignition that once were available for just 30 cents each but now are obsolete.

Wolff says that in one respect it was ahead of its time: "Note the belt drive," he says; "all the new Harleys have that." Of course, it had no gears, just go and stop; although unlike some motorcycles of its time, it does have a clutch. And check out those long handlebars, with the accelerator on the left handlebar! You could really hurt yourself in a sharp turn. Wolff also tells a wonderful story about his uncle using barley to fill the tires when the inner tube could no longer be patched; barley swells more than any other grain when wet, and would allow another day's riding when no tubes were available. Ah, the good ol' days!

Meanwhile, inside the Heritage Museum, there's more about our motorcycle heritage as well as the whimsical exhibit, "Whose derriere sat in my chair."

Doug Chaussee fires a bowl at Hot Shop glass

Tom Hoffman demonstrates portrait drawing at RAM

Billy Boy made balloon animals for a stready stream of kids

Katie LaFond performed on Sixth Street

Joe Kennedy on piano at Crosswalk Park


  1. And how u think this will all change when The Department of Development and Brian O'Connell get low income housing on 6th st built?

  2. Why not put the Low In Come housing on Main St. Why fix up 6th st. and put the housing there!! There are alot of empty buildings on Main St.!! Why us???

  3. Here's how it will change: Enjoy the party on Main Street all you want to, but pack a gun if you plan to park or walk more than a block west of Main.

    Does it sound like I think low-income housing will add to crime in the area? You betcha.

  4. So what are we going to do about this?
    1st step I think is to purge Brian O'Connell from the City payroll

  5. Brian & his sidekick Kristin Niemic both need to disappear.

  6. Brian O'Connell Racine is on to you.
    Start writing a resume thinking your going to need it.

  7. I have to give props this event was well attended. I saw so many people I knew and many I didn't.

  8. Brian doesn't even know when he is being hilariously ignorant about property rights. Just because it is your property does not mean you can put what you like on it. He didn't like the outside facade of a building. Well la de da. Lets all have little pink houses. That would drive him mad.

  9. Yeah it brought a lot of people downtown which is a good thing! As I drove trough the downtown area with my daughter I couldn't believe how many people were walking around drinking alcoholic beverages isn't that against the law? The city doesn't want a hot dog stand to be in the downtown area but I guess a beer trailer at monument square is acceptable! Further I was listening to the scanner and the police were bombarded by fights on Main Street and even had Mount Pleasant Police on sixth street covering issues at Park 6, Yeah this event was good for downtown but, it consumed a lot of police resources and let people break the law by letting them drink open intoxicant on our city streets shame on the DRC and the City of Racine elected cronies!