After harsh weather conditions canceled Downtown Lakeland’s September First Friday event, the October First Friday brought over 100 booths of vendors to Munn Park and the surrounding streets.
Locals enjoyed the HeART of Lakeland Art Walk, the Dog Days of Summer and the Polk Authors and Illustrators Festival.
Crowds and dogs littered the streets, viewing antique cars and sampling some of the fair-style foods, as well as zombies and other walking dead alike, strolled the avenues advertising for ZombieFest scheduled for Oct. 12.
Performers of the Lakeland community sang numbers from their upcoming show, “Les Misérables.” Chilling renditions of “On my Own” and “One Day More,” promise an excellent show when it hits the stage Oct. 25 through Nov. 17.
Other live performances include students from Just Dance Academy of Dance and Etiquette on South Kentucky Avenue.
The Cleveland Height’s Animal Hospital featured a “doggy carnival,” complete with costume contests for pets.
Several animal rescue groups and the Kennel Club had a booth, educating people about their causes. Raffles and giveaways raised money for the organizations and winners got to take home “doggy-friendly” gift baskets.
Sheriff Grady Judd was one of the many local Lakelanders enjoying the event with his family.
“When I was a child and when my mother was a child, who was raised in Lakeland on Friday night, the kids would come down and play in the park while the parents shopped,” Judd said. “This takes me back to my youth and my dear mother who has passed away. It reminds me of her talking about her youth because that’s what her mom and dad did- they came down on Friday night.”
According to Judd, “This was Lakeland. There were no malls, there was no Southgate shopping centers. Then, as the city grew, a lot of these business closed and it was sad. Now look how alive Lakeland is.”
Judd mentions that First Friday is a great way to spend time with family.
“What’s more wholesome than being Downtown with your children on Friday with balloons, candy, food and music? This is real America,” Judd said.
Sheriff Judd wasn’t the only recognizable face at the event. Florida Southern College’s mascot “Mocsie” made an appearance, along with senior Jenna Capparello.
Mocsie and Capparello were giving information about FSC athletics.
“It’s great to get out in the community and be able to reach out to a lot more people, encouraging them to go to games,” Capparello said.
The next First Friday is planned to take place Nov. 1. It will feature the Polk County Builders Association and The City of Lakeland’s Talent Show at 6-9 p.m.
First Fridays are always family-friendly and free.