We can’t count the number of times suggestions have been made to “fix” downtown Derry so that it will attract more foot traffic and more customers. Consultants have been hired and let go, locals and non-locals have offered their advice, yet nothing seemed to stick.
But there’s a change in the air, and it’s not just the coming of crisp fall weather. Andy Day, the owner of two of downtown Derry’s newer businesses, the Cask and Vine and The Drinkery, often holds themed events. He suggested taking that another step further with a bigger themed event for all interested downtown businesses, and came up with “Here’s Looking at You, Derry.”
A take-off on the Bogart and Bergman film “Casablanca” and its famous line, the promotion, planned for Oct. 17, brings together downtown businesses and the Derry Arts Council and Derry Opera House for a showing of the classic film. Working up to the show, patrons of participating businesses during the week of Oct. 11-17 will receive a free ticket to the film.
And in the spirit of the season, ‘40s attire and hairstyles are encouraged, along with classic cars from that era, both at the film itself and during the preceding week.
Day is not stopping there. The Opera House will present three seatings of “The Polar Express” on Dec. 19, again with free admission to those showing a receipt from a downtown business during the week of Dec. 13-19.
Day hopes to host similar events every two months after that.
It will be fun to watch the downtown businesses gear up for a ‘40s week, and for special Christmas-themed activities, complete with Santa, in December. We hope residents and visitors will decide to check out what’s offered in downtown Derry and take advantage of the opportunity to gain a free movie ticket to the Opera House showing in the bargain.
And particularly important – this is a promotion of downtown that is the work of downtown merchants and organization members themselves. It’s not a stock event plucked off a list of suggested activities that have worked somewhere else years ago. If it doesn’t work, it won’t be for lack of trying or creativity or investment by those directly involved.
So “Here’s Looking at You, Derry,” – an inexpensive way to see a movie, and a reason to visit downtown and see what’s new, and hopefully come back for more. And if you can dress up in some World War II-era styles at the same time, downtown will be a fun place to see, as well as a location to shop and dine.