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Monday, March 18,2013

Party for Old Town

Celebrating Old Town’s success: ‘The story is great but it was more about the journey getting here’

by Ashley Brown
Friday, May 27 — Perspective2 Studio in Old Town was filled with more than 100 small-business owners, sponsors and volunteers Thursday evening to honor the local hands who helped the north side neighborhood garner national attention this week.

"Old Town Main Street" was one of five recipients nationwide of the National Historic Trust’s Great American Main Street Award. It was recognized for its commitment to historic preservation and economic development and joined the ranks of neighborhood associations in Wisconsin, Florida, Delaware and New Mexico. And that success is due to its people, said Brittney Hoszkiw, executive director of the Old Town Commercial Association.

“We have a volunteer base of 1,300 people that help us in all sorts of capacities,” she said. “From street clean up, to hosting an event, to marketing. “

Lansing is the third Michigan city to win the annual award since it was first given out in 1995. Bay City and Holland are past recipients.

With the OTCA operating as a non-profit organization — using a grassroots method to rejuvenate the town — many are surprised with the success, said OTCA Board President Don McNabb.

“It’s a big pat on the back when you see what we’ve done over the last 15 years,” he said. “There is a feeling of worth that people are putting effort in to something worth it.”

The party was a way for everyone to share in the win, especially the volunteers, Hoszkiw said.

“(Winning this award) shows that we are on the right path of revamping our downtowns,” she said. “The story is great but it was more about the journey getting here.”

Old Town residents and volunteers like David Gregware, owner of Tallulah’s Folly flower and gift shop at 1220 Turner St., seem to not mind putting in the extra elbow grease needed to make the town look good.

Gregware helped prepare for the party by landscaping the grounds around the OTCA office before the party was moved to Perspective2 Thursday morning, he said.

“That’s what everyone does here,” Gregware said. “Everyone helps everyone. The many, many things (people here) do for everyone, it’s like a close knit community — family almost.”

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