On June 2, the Wausau River District was filled with large, white and blue flags stationed outside of 36 businesses, marking the beginning of First Thursdays.
The event was an overall success for the River District, as thousands of people gathered to shop, explore the area and experience a Wausau-style, Throwback Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The aim of First Thursdays, and in particular this kickoff, is to bring more people to the Wausau River District and encourage them to walk around and explore all the different things the district has to offer.
The night started off with attendees going from store to store collecting vintage postcards featuring pictures of historical Wausau River District storefronts. The goal was to collect as many postcards as possible and then submit them for a chance to win a prize basket worth over $1,500. At 6:30 p.m., all postcards were turned and the winner, Madison Nowak, was announced on a live radio broadcast by Sports Fan 100.5.
The prize basket included an arrangement by Evolutions in Design, two tickets to Guys Who Grill from courtesy of the YWCA, two tickets to a Grand Theater show of choice, two one night stays at The Jefferson Inn, two art classes at The Bauhaus, and four tickets to Blues Fest courtesy of Wausau Events.
Following the announcement of the winner, Wausau Academy of Dance performed several dances outside of the First American Plaza with the help of High Volume Entertainment. The Rogue magician performed nearby juggling and handing out balloon animals.
Local musicians lined the streets with acts ranging from rock n’ roll to jazz to cello solos. Twelve different musicians and groups played throughout the event, providing constant entertainment to those walking by. One attendee even compared the vibrant downtown atmosphere to New Orleans.
Each participating store offered its own deals and giveaways. Sweet Lola’s had tie-dye cupcakes, Campbell Haines Menswear had a 20 percent off storewide sale, Polito’s offered two slices and a drink for $6.50 and Nicole’s Boutique gave away free tie-dye socks to anyone who tried on an item.
Other businesses got playful and placed fun activities outside. Back When Café had face painting, Janke Bookstore placed vintage toys on a table for people to check out, VOSStudios had live statues and La Prima Deli had a cutout hippie van all set up for photos.
At the close of the night, the DJ played Twist and Shout and everyone got their final Throwback Thursday groove on.
If you missed the first First Thursday, no fear, it will be back on July 2 with the theme of Terrific Transportation, which will include a bike and pedestrian information booth, Segway experience and live music.