By Joan Durbin | Neighbor Newspapers
The monthly street party that has become one of the most popular outdoor events in Roswell is set to kick off its seven-month season on April 18.
Alive After Five, or AA5 as it is affectionately known to its legion of fans, is in its eighth year. Its new sibling, Alive at the Square, is back for its second.
“We see such great spirit and energy that we’re really excited about going forward,” said Roswell Realtor Anne Reddick, who coordinates Alive at the Square with her daughter and business partner, Kelley Davis.
“Last year, we didn’t start until August, but even starting as late as we did, we had 3,000 people that first time, which was phenomenal. And September and October were good, too. It’s a really good adjunct to Alive After Five.”
Park Square is closed off for the event on the historic town square, which includes vendors and food trucks as well as open houses at area businesses.
“We don’t compete with Canton Street, which is mostly an adult crowd. Here we have room for families and strollers,” Davis said. “And the fence around the square has been a wonderful addition because it makes parents comfortable,” Reddick said. Further north, along Canton Street Magnolia Street to Woodstock Road, Alive After Five is ready to set the historic district humming once again.
“In 2001 the city gave us $1,000 to hire a consultant because we could not get people to come to Canton Street,” said Sally Johnson, the force behind the Historic Roswell Merchants Association. “One of the results of that report was a suggestion to create an event. So in 2005, we did.”
At first, attendance was sparse. But as the historic district began evolving into a hot destination, AA5 was a beneficiary.
A decade ago, Canton Street was all shops and art galleries and no restaurants, Johnson said. “Now we have a strong balance of all of them. Everything has come together very nicely.”
So popular has AA5 become that last year the city started closing Canton Street between Norcross and Magnolia streets to accommodate the throngs better. Live music, commercial and nonprofit vendors and a variety of restaurants and watering holes contribute to the party atmosphere.
New this year will be an entertainment area especially for kids. At the north end of Canton at its intersection with Woodstock Road, there will be a bounce house, a “human hamster wheel” and an RV filled with arcade and Wii games.
Also new is an additional trolley to ferry attendees around AA5 and Alive at the Square, bringing the total to three. The free municipal parking lot across Ga. Hwy 9/Alpharetta Street at city hall will be the most frequent stop, Johnson said.
The tandem events will occur the third Thursday of every month, 5 to 9 p.m., until October.