Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Thursday night events to heat up downtown area

Downtown Evanston will come alive tonight for the kickoff of “It’s Thursday, ” an entertainment program that will feature live bands and prizes and promote local businesses and restaurants.

Business owners are hoping residents will forsake must-see TV on Thursday nights this summer to participate in the program at Bank One Plaza, at Orrington Avenue and Davis Street, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“We hope the ‘It’s Thursday’ program will make people stop and take advantage of what Evanston has to offer,” said Bridget Lane, executive director of Evmark, a downtown Evanston promotions company.

Local merchants have donated more than $1,000 worth of prizes including free dinners, passes to Century Theatres and a one-month membership to Evanston Athletic Club. “Shopping sprees” in almost 30 local boutiques also will be given away. Awards must be used immediately, so winners have to be present to claim their prizes.

“The idea is to start your weekend early,” said Martha Rosenberg, a city spokeswoman.

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, activities will begin while the country rock band Cedarcase plays. Information booths will preview upcoming events in the Evanston area.

About 10,000 people work in the downtown Evanston area, Rosenberg said.

“The idea behind the program is to get workers to stay after work and take advantage of the opportunities,” she said.

In the past, Evanston has offered entertainment in July, but the new “It’s Thursday” program will start this week.

“The reason we are starting the program so early in the spring is to encourage Northwestern students to attend,” Rosenberg said.

Downtown Evanston entertainment has typically started late in the evening, she said, and starting earlier will give people the chance to go to dinner or a movie.

“We really hope that students and community members will come to the ‘It’s Thursday’ program and take advantage of the stores, restaurants and businesses in the Evanston area,” Lane said.

Giordano’s manager Oleg Vachenkl said he thinks the program will help business.

“Any kind of live music or entertainment brings more business downtown,” he said.

Rosenberg also said she hopes the program will help NU students and the community discover downtown retailers. Although tonight will be a general kickoff, following weeks will focus more on specific retail themes such as extreme sports, fashion, books or office buildings.

“Hopefully people will be able to come and find out about more events in the area,” Lane said. “Summer is a fun time in Evanston and we want people to be able to come downtown and enjoy Thursday nights.”

The program will run throughout the summer. In the case of bad weather, the band will move indoors to the Bank One lobby. Different bands, including hip hop, jazz and rock bands, will play each week. In late July there will be opportunities for swing and ballroom dancing.

“The program will start later some weeks and people will be able to dance under the stars,” Lane said.

Lane said the idea for the program came from store and restaurant owners. Many people do not realize downtown businesses are open weekday nights, she said.

Rosenberg said “It’s Thursday” is paid for by Evmark, which is supported by downtown merchants. Many local businesses have donated to the program, Rosenberg said.

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Thursday night events to heat up downtown area