United Downtown back for third consecutive year

Event is a big street party before four Gator home football games


Published: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 5:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 5:41 p.m.

United Downtown will return on Aug. 30 for the third consecutive year with more activities for the entire family, an expanded outdoor beer garden, music, lots of vendors and weekly themes offering something new each Friday night before four of the University of Florida home football games.

Facts

UNITED DOWNTOWN

* What: United Downtown 2013, a series of street events the Friday before four Gator football home games.

* When: 6-10 p.m. Aug. 30, Sept. 20, Oct. 4 and Nov. 22.

* Where: Downtown Gainesville, 1st Street between University Avenue and SE 2nd Place.

* Information: Call 352-331-2800.

Kim Faenza, director of marketing at United Way of North Central Florida, said the theme this year will be "Get Your Gator On! at United Downtown," a free street party to be held from 6-10 p.m. Aug. 30, Sept. 20, Oct. 4 and Nov. 22 in downtown Gainesville along SE 1st Street between University Avenue and SE 2nd Place.

United Downtown also will coincide with the city of Gainesville "Free Fridays" concert series at the Bo Diddley Downtown Community Plaza.

"This year, we are excited to collaborate with the community and host each week with a different theme as we celebrate the best in Gainesville sports, business, arts and music," said Debbie Mason, president and CEO of United Way, in a press release. "The themes allow United Way of North Central Florida to showcase the diversity in our community and bring something new to our guests at each event."

Faenza said activities offered at every event will include the O2B Kids! Playzone, with bounce houses, sponsored by Burger King; face painting, arts and crafts, balloon art, Archer-based Hillary Cowart the Magic Man, and other activities. Music will be provided by a DJ from Gainesville's Grooveshark.

There also will be an outdoor beer garden by Swamp Head Brewery featuring acoustic music or karaoke; discounted tickets to Hippodrome performances, and 30 vendors offering a selection of merchandise and food including Gator jewelry and apparel, massages, snacks, frozen drinks, pretzels, popcorn and other items. In addition, Gator Domino Pizza and Ribs by George will provide food choices.

Faenza wants participants to enjoy the activities United Downtown has to offer and then have dinner at one "of our many restaurants downtown," she said.

Below are themes and activities for the four events:

* Aug. 30: Gator Run-n-Fun with the Florida Track Club Sunset 5K, former Gator football players signing autographs, taking photos and tossing the football; rock climbing by the Gainesville Rock Gym; photos with UF mascots Albert and Alberta and the Soccer Collies, dogs that play soccer.

Crooked Counsel, a five-piece classic rock cover band, will play from 8-10 p.m. at the "Free Fridays" concert.

* Sept. 20: Show Your Love for GNV! Celebrate everything Gainesville and learn about local businesses and see what they have to offer the community. Bring your orange & blue best and enter a contest for most creative, spirited and just plain fun orange & blue outfits.

Heavy Petty, a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Tribute band, will be playing from 8-10 p.m. at the "Free Fridays" concert.

* Oct. 4: Paint Downtown Orange & Blue!: Painting on a life-size LIVE UNITED canvas with Corks & Colors; a performance by the Gainesville acoustic band Pristine Stringz at the beer garden and actors from the Hippodrome's "Zombie Town" play will stroll the streets and perform.

The Relics, a Woodstock Era Tribute Band, will be playing from 8-10 p.m. at the "Free Fridays" concert.

* Nov. 22: Gators Ride, Rock & Roll! car show features Harley Davidson motorcycles with the newly released 2014 bikes.

A concert featuring Gainesville-based "Fast Lane," a seven-piece band that plays a blend of R&B, funk, soul and rock and roll, will take place from 8-10 p.m. at the Bo Diddley Plaza.

"The real goal is to bring the community a giant pep rally before the football game to celebrate our Gators and Gainesville community," Faenza said.

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