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First Friday evenings in Lancaster the five blocks of N. Prince St. swirl with people. Along this strip sits the Fulton Opera home of the symphony and our Equity theater. A bit farther along is the Pennsylvania Academy Of Music and its crisp new music hall. A couple of blocks farther up, the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design's galleries are filled with shows. And among these anchors are the dozens of commercial art galleries each opening a new show on First Friday evening. The art shops have begun to spill into the cross streets with two of the most challenging: Lancaster Galleries to the South and DePaul Gallery up on the North. From Spring till Fall their are musicians and street artists all along the sidewalks. Even the office and professional buildings have opened lobbies to mount shows on First Fridays so Lancaster has turned fine art into a performing entertainment.
It's a night when restaurant reservations are impossible to get and the jazz and rock clubs get filled a little earlier with singles who come first to walk the galleries then go off to dance and drink. Which means that the crowds are all ages and family sizes. It's a carnival of art each month that kicks off around 6 or 7 and bustles till 9 or 10. There's talk of closing N. Prince Street on First Fridays but the street's a major city artery and frankly the traffic feeds the urban pulse-beat.
Much as rural and suburban living offers some peace, I don't think we'll ever give up the city's pace. I'm not a camper, hiker, fisherman, or hunter. Just never learned to like that stuff when I was young and impressionable and riding my bike around the busy streets of Philadelphia. And now I do it in Lancaster. Or walk wherever... To market... to restaurants... to the library... professional appointments... And we walk those blocks on First Fridays, getting off on the imaginings of brilliant artists, listening to wonderful music, watching the theater, and.. and... sensing that things on First Fridays all blur into an abstract art.